Study Guide

Having Our Say Part III, Chapter 7: Sadie and Bessie

By Sarah and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth

Part III, Chapter 7: Sadie and Bessie

  • Nanny is ashamed that her parents weren't able to get married, so she is determined to find a hubby in North Carolina, where race restrictions are less strict.
  • There's no shortage of men looking to put a ring on it at St. Aug's. Luckily, she falls in love with Henry, "a man of the highest quality" (3.7.2).
  • They get married right after Henry graduates despite his advisers warning him to focus on his career. Aw, that hits us right in the feels!
  • Lemuel is the first Delany kid; Sadie and Bessie (our narrators, if you forgot) are born over the next four years, followed by Julia, Harry, Lucius, William, Hubert, Laura, and Samuel. Phew.
  • The kids grow up on St. Aug's campus, where their "every move was chaperoned," either by their parents or their father's cousin Culot (3.7.8).
  • As kids, Sadie and Bessie work on the campus farm to earn extra money. These girls must've been little Ronda Rousey's because they were moving hundreds of pounds of crops a day!
  • Although the Delanys enjoy a stable life, there are many in their community who are not so lucky, like Mr. Holloway and Aunt Sukey. Henry and Nanny encourage the kids to help these needy former slaves.
  • A man named Uncle Jesse arrives in town and is cared for by Nanny. He goes on to become a mail carrier for the school, and the kids would often "go to his old farmhouse and clean it out" (3.7.22).
  • When Uncle Jesse dies, the family holds a small funeral in the black cemetery. Although the white cemetery across the way holds more elaborate ceremonies, Henry "presided over the service as if he was burying the king of England himself" (3.7.25).

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