Black Women Writers @ Southwestern University

An English / Feminist Studies / Race & Ethnicity Studies Course Blog

Silver Sparrow tugs at my heart

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*This post contains spoilers for those who have not finished Silver Sparrow*

Silver Sparrow has moved me so much and has taken me on a chaotic roller coaster of emotions. Each character has his/her own emotions, struggles, and drive, and it is impossible to feel completely negatively towards any of them, even James. Since the book starts with Dana’s point of view, allowing me to experience her emotions, I immediately wanted to take her side in the predicament, to support her in her struggle to feel accepted as James’ daughter, and to be able to live her life freely. When Dana tells the story of how her mother proposed to James, I immediately became torn between feeling sorry for Gwen, and feeling angry towards her and James for agreeing to continue a secret relationship behind his wife’s back. I believe (I think) that Gwen and James should never have started a relationship in the first place while he was married, but I couldn’t help but feel for Gwen when, upon becoming pregnant despite their precautions, she asks James to marry her. On page 52, Dana narrates, “When James said he wasn’t going to leave Laverne, Mother tried to act like he had misunderstood her, like she hadn’t been suggesting that they run away together and live life like normal people, giving me a chance at ordinary life.” Gwen acted out of her love for James and her hope that her daughter could be born into a happy, “ordinary” life. And when James says no, she offers what she believes is the next best solution: a secret marriage.

When it comes to James, I initially believed that it was wrong for him to cheat on his wife and therefore he was automatically a bad person. But in the second half of the book, when Chaurisse narrates that Laverne and James married because she became pregnant with a baby boy who then died at birth, and that they remained together afterwards regardless, I couldn’t help but feel that James was doing his best to be fair to Laverne and Chaurisse, despite his love for Laverne blossoming out of an accidental pregnancy and becoming more a relationship of comfort and familiarity than passion. James then falls in love with Gwen and upon getting her pregnant, decides to try to be present in both of his children’s lives while doing the least damage he can to their feelings. And ultimately, everyone gets hurt and the entire situations blows up in all of their faces anyways, because that kind of secret just can’t be kept forever. But does this make James a terrible, immoral person? I’m not sure. I want to say yes, because that’s an absolute answer, but I can’t help but think that it’s not that simple. Nothing about this story is absolute.

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