Although many Brown Baggers were not familiar with historical figures Sarah and Angelina Grimke, we had the opportunity to learn more about their lives through Sue Monk Kidd’s novel The Invention of Wings. A fictionalized account, Kidd added the character of Hetty, or “Handful,” the slave presented to Sarah as a birthday present. Through the novel, Kidd weaves alternating narratives of these two women seeking to transcend their circumstances.
Even though it was a fictionalized account, this was an eye-opening introduction to this period of history. A few group members were surprised that the abolition and women’s rights work was taking place so early, as this book is set almost 60 years before the Civil War. Some details were brutal, but necessary to show certain truths. Everyone was appalled at the treatment of the slaves as depicted by the author, specifically Handful’s mother’s punishment on the treadmill. The group discussed the use of the quilt in the story as well. It served as a uniquely non-literate way to pass down a familial and cultural history while also educating the reader. We also discussed their use on the Underground Railroad. Continue reading