Films, Books, Musings-With the Glamour of Old Hollywood and the Flair of the Retro

Calebs’ Crossing by Geraldine Brooks- A Review

In Books on July 22, 2012 at 11:54 am

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Calebs’ Crossing is inspired by the true story of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard college in the 17th century .It is also the story of the times in which Caleb lived, the early days of America, when scolars were men, primarily English men, when females tended the home, and the Native Americans were ‘heathen slavages’.

The tale of these harsh times is told by Bethia Mayfield, daughter of John Mayfield, a minister on the island now known as Marthas’ Vineyard. His mission is to bring Christianity to the Wamponoag tribe that lives there, and as he educates his son, Makepeace, he also begins to teach some willing Native American boys.

Bethis satisfies her thirst for knowledge by surreptitiously listening in on the boys lessons. She also secretly befriends a Native American boy. They share their language,culture and beliefs, and this boy later becomes known as Caleb.

Bethia shows us a view of the times- the harsh struggle of day to day living, the fearand contempt of conflicting religion and beliefs, the chauvanism,the racism,the treachery.

Brooks draws a picture of the often ugly times against the backdrop of the beautiful island. She describes the life and culture of the Wamponoag and the Puritan English through the eyes of a female who is discontent with the ways of the time, using the speech of the 17th century, but the lack of tolerance for discrimination of a more modern time.

Calebs’ Crossing is a thought-provoking, interesting and enlightening novel with true and vulnerable characters that offer an insight into a time and state of afffairs not often spoken about.

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