Short Story #109: The Quadroons by Lydia Maria Child

Title:  The Quadroons 

Author:  Lydia Maria Child


Lydia Maria Child - The Quadroon
The story starts with a cottage in Georgia prior to the Civil War, where two lovers live together, enjoying the off season when there are less people around because the woman, Rosalie, is a "quadroon" while her husband, Edward, is a young white Georgian. The two had married in a church but could not legally marry as it was miscegenation was illegal.  However, they enjoy their marriage and even have daughter, Xarifa.  The three live is peace until Edward becomes involved in politics and his success leads him to approach his personal life as political.  He decides he needs to marry a white woman in order to secure power, but tries to explain to Rosalie that this doesn't detract from his love for her after she has discovered he is to be married.  She refuses any kind of relationship beyond what they have and leaves.  The new wife, Charlotte, slowly learns of the loveless marriage she has entered into and how Edward still misses Rosalie.  A year later, Rosalie dies and Edward enters back into Xarifa's life, trying to care for her as best as he could.  However, the death of Rosalie wore upon him and he eventually dies in an incident involving alcohol and horse-riding.  In the aftermath of his death, history soon catches up with Xarifa in that her grandmother was not a free woman but a runaway slave--which by default, makes her a slave.  She is dragged back into slavery where she is sold and eventually forced into both physical and sexual servitude.  Shortly thereafter, she commits suicide. 


The brutal end of the story is sad for a great many reasons related to American history.  However, the story is still enjoyable in the sense of the grace and sense of self embodied in both of Rosalie and Xarifa.  Things that were less than impressive for the story was the child's name, Xarifa.  This was an anagram for Africa with the "c" replaced by an "x".  The commentary at the end of the story where Child chides the reader and reiterates that this kind of thing is happening all the time in the South is a bit over the top or devalues her fiction and her readership.

Short Story #109 out of 365
Rating: 4 (out of 5 stars)
Date Read:  1/6/2014
Source:  The story can be found on this website.

For a full listing of all the short stories in this series, check out the category 365 Short Stories a year.

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