Monday, 3 November 2008

Character Guide: Mr Garner

Mr Garner is the owner of Sweet Home whose death brings about the arrival of schoolteacher, who comes to help the ailing Mrs Garner. Mr Garner is proud of his slaves, saying he has raised them as men. They have more privileges than many slaves and Garner will trust their judgement and opinions about their work:

Now at Sweet Home, my niggers is men every one of em. Bought em thataway, raised em thataway. Men every one.

He is kind to Baby Suggs and allows Halle to buy her freedom. However, this is also hypocritical because he is still placing a price on a person's life. This is represented by the conversation he has with Baby on the way to the Bodwin's house when she has been freed and he laughs at her name:

if I was you I'd stick to Jenny Whitlow. Mrs Baby Suggs ain't no name for a freed Negro

Later in the novel (chapter 24), Paul D questions that whether that treatment was any better as it prevented him from defining his own identity:

Everything rested on Garner being alive. Without his life each of theirs fell to pieces. Ain't that slavery or what is it?

Wordbank for Mr Garner:


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