| Quote #7
Sixteen years later he had one of the best farms in Montour County. A farm that colored their lives like a paintbrush and spoke to them like a sermon. "You see?" the farm said to them. "See? See what you can do? Never mind you can’t tell one letter from another, never mind you born a slave, never mind you lose your name, never mind your daddy dead, never mind nothing. Here, this here, is what a man can do if he puts his mind to it and his back into it. Stop sniveling," it said. "Stop picking around the edges of the world. Take advantage, and if you can’t take advantage, take disadvantage. We live here. On this planet, in this nation, in this country right here. Nowhere else! We got a home in this rock, don’t you see! Nobody starving in my home; nobody crying in my home, and if I got a home you got one too! Grab it! Grab this land! (2.10.235)
Lincoln’s Heaven is like the coolest version of a home that we see in Song, and it is cool because it grows things, it is the product of sixteen years of hard work, it is creative, it is constantly producing deliciousness, and it has a fish pond. There is no place else like it in the world of this novel. It is a paradise. It is named after the American president who ended slavery, and seems to embody the ideals that that president believed in. Racism kills this version of a home, and, therefore, kills that president’s ideals. As depressing as that sounds, Lincoln’s Heaven is a source of inspiration for many people in Danville and beyond.
| Quote #8
Without knowing who killed their father, they instinctively hated the murderer’s house. And it did look like a murderer’s house. Dark, ruined, evil. Never, not since he knelt by his window still wishing he could fly, had he felt so lonely. (2.10.238)
Man, big mansions in this novel are always so evil and diseased, and their inhabitants are kind of unhappy. We’d take a Lincoln’s Heaven dwelling over this cold bastion of wealth any day of the week.
| Quote #9
"They loved this place. Loved it. Brought pink veined marble from across the sea for it and hired men in Italy to do the chandelier that I had to climb a ladder and clean with white muslin every two months. They loved it. Stole for it, lied for it, killed for it. But I’m the one left. Me and the dogs. And I will never clean it again. […] Everything in this world they lived for will crumble and rot." (2.10.247)
The Butlers represent the greed, materialism, and racism that afflicted many white Americans. But this greed, materialism, and racism do not get them very far. Their goal and desire is to amass wealth and to live well, but by focusing so heavily on "things," they forget that these "things" are impermanent and subject to decay, just like them. These "things" don’t last like the mythology of Solomon and Ryna do, for example.