Summary and Analysis Chapter 22



Linda describes the rituals and festivities surrounding Christmas, focusing on the Johnkannaus dancers. She discusses her grandmother's two "special" guests — the town constable and the "free colored man" who tries to pass for white — who are invited specifically to convince them that Linda is nowhere near her grandmother's house.


As in Chapter 3, Linda focuses on the role of traditions and celebrations in the black community. Christmas is a joyous occasion for both races, although the black community's festivities are overshadowed by the knowledge that hiring day (the day when slaves were expected to leave their families and go with their new masters) is near. Despite this knowledge, the slaves do their best to create a festive atmosphere that focuses on the Johnkannaus dancers. The fact that enslaved blacks celebrate the festival indicates that they have retained some aspects of their cultural heritage, despite enslavement.

Linda's grandmother opens the house for the constable and a free black man, "who tried to pass himself off for white, and who was always ready to do any mean work for the sake of currying favor with white people." Linda's attitude toward these men reveals some of her values. Although she finds the duties of the white constable "despicable," she expresses profound revulsion for the free black man, ". . . for the sake of passing himself off for white, he was ready to kiss the slaveholders' feet. How I despised him!" Although many blacks tried to pass as white to ensure their own survival — including Linda's Uncle Benjamin — this free black man had turned on his own people, a betrayal that brings up strong emotions for Linda.