Sunday, June 19, 2022

Images, history, and Link Williams's understanding of his abduction in Ann Petry's "The Narrows"

Near the end of Ann Petry's "The Narrows" (1953), Link Williams, a young Black man who is "working on a history of slavery in the United States", is abducted by the husband of his white ex-mistress Camilla. He sees "one quarter of the explanation" for the abduction in two photographs associated with that affair (one of Camilla; one of a Black escaped convict), while "[t]he other three-quarters reaches back to that Dutch man of warre that landed in Jamestown in 1619." For Link, then, his experiences as a Black man in the mid-twentieth-century United States are determined by images (those photographs) and history (the American story that began with that ship). (Andrew Shields, #111words, 19 June 2022)

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