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From the Central Series
- Addy Walker
- Ben Walker
- Ruth Walker
- Sam Walker
- Esther Walker
- Mr. and Mrs. Golden
- Mrs. Ford (Only Mentioned)
- Solomon Morgan (Only Mentioned)
- Lula Morgan (Only Mentioned)
- Master Stevens (Only Mentioned)
Only In Shadows on Society Hill
Chapter By Chapter Summary
Chapter One: A Daring Rescue
The book starts out with Addy seeing an man crossing the street. A horse breaks away from his carriage and runs towards the man. Addy yells at the man to get out of the way, but he doesn't appear to hear her. She runs towards him, calling her Poppa, who is repairing the overhang of a building close by. Addy leaps at the man, and knocks him out of the way, with the horse passing very close to them. Poppa now catches up to Addy after barreling down the ladder and asks if she is alright and what happened. The man states that Addy saved his life. A crowd has gathered, and one woman accuses Addy of knocking down the man. Addy quickly defends her actions, saying the bridle broke, and she hadn't meant to hurt the man. The man quickly agrees, frowns at the woman, and disperses the crowd.
The man explains he keeps cotton in his ears because the cole hurts his eardrums. He hadn't heard the horse, or Addy, and thanks her profusely. Poppa continually asks Addy is she is alright, to which she replies yes. Poppa says he's glad the gentleman wasn't hurt, and they turn to walk away. But the man offers Addy a generous reward for $10. Addy is very tempted to take the money, because $10 could pay for an entire year of schooling at the Institute for Colored Youth, and Poppa hasn't had continuous work for about four months. But, she turns down the offer respectfully. The man protests, yet Poppa is firm, and he grabs his tools from the overhang and says to Addy that they have to get home. the man looks at the overhang and asks Poppa if he did the work, which he did.
The man asks how he learned, and if he works for a certain company. In a few minutes, Poppa has a job working for a the man, Albert Radisson. Mr. Radisson wants Poppa to do the overhanging on his houses. Poppa is to report on Monday morning - bright and early. As the man walks away, Poppa expresses how happy he was that Addy had decided to come with him, and thanks her. Addy smiles and laments on how well the year 1866 is turning out, with her family finally together and the war over.
Chapter Two: Snowfall
The chapter starts out with a snowfall, in which Addy comments on "how quickly 'good' disappears." She ponders how when Poppa got the job, Mrs. Ford closes the dress shop, and the Walkers need to find a new home. Addy wishes that Auntie Lula and Uncle Solomon were home, and gives a little history of them. As Addy walks into the boarding house, she finds Momma crying with Poppa. When Addy asks what's wrong, Poppa says they're moving. At first, Addy starts worrying, but she sees her parents smiling. Poppa announces that they are moving to Society Hill, to live in the servants' house behind Mr. Radisson's. Addy, Momma, and Poppa are all very excited, as this is the nicest they've lived in, on Society Hill, where the richer people live.
Poppa says that Mr. Radisson's uncle left the house to Mr. Radisson when he passed away. Mr. Radisson let the servants go, and closed up the house. The servants apparently had two girls like the Walkers, and everything was set up already. Addy and Esther are going to have a room all to themselves. Addy picks up Esther and starts swinging her around in pure excitement. When Sam comes home, Addy riddles him about their room. When Sam gives in and Addy tells him about the new house, he can barely believe it. Addy and Esther start dancing around, and Sam quickly joins in. When Esther calls for Momma and Poppa, they, to Addy's shock, start dancing as well.
Sunday evening the Walker's say a tearful good-bye to the Golden's, who run the boarding house where they live. Addy specifically says good-by to M'dear, Mrs. Golden's mother. As they approached Society Hill, everything started looking cleaner and nicer. Addy lingers to examine dresses in a shop, when a policeman stops the family. The policeman accuses them of stealing these things, despite the polite explanations of Sam and Poppa. When Poppa reaches into his pocket to take out Mr. Radisson's card with his address on it, the policeman hits his hand really hard, though Poppa ignores it. The policeman finally lets them continue, but promises that he'll be watching them. The family continues walking, slightly shaken and discouraged.
Chapter Three: Uncle Solomon's Protection
Chapter Four: Troubling Answers
Chapter Five: A Cold Welcome
Chapter Six: The Mystery Woman
Chapter Seven: The Black Swan
Chapter Eight: A Strange Riddle
Chapter Nine: Confusion
Chapter Ten: Beautiful
Chapter Eleven: A Terrible Accusation
Chapter Twelve: From Bad to Worse
Chapter Thirteen: The Riddle Deepens
Chapter Fourteen: Caught
Chapter Fifteen: The Tale Is Told
Discusses the experiences of African Americans during the Reconstruction period. Topics covered:
- The rights and freedoms former slaves in the South were granted after the Civil War
- Ways many African Americans helped with the fight against slavery, including becoming abolitionists, joining the army and becoming spies for the Union
- Harriet Tubman, who not only helped slaves escape through the Underground Railroad, but also operated a highly effective network of Black spies in South Carolina
- Mary Elizabeth Bowser, who used her photographic memory to spy on President Jefferson Davis at the Confederate White House
- The period following the Civil War named Reconstruction to aid in helping with rebuilding the South
- The benefits and promises African Americans received during Reconstruction, such as the right to an education and the allowance for Black men to vote
- Southern states passing Black Codes to limit the freedoms of African Americans
- Struggles many newly freed slaves faced with finding food and shelter, resulting with many living in conditions that were just as bad as slavery
- The Ku Klux Klan, a secret organization founded in 1866 that dressed up in white hoods and attacked those they hated during the night
- Segregation Blacks faced in the North, and the pressures felt by northern cities when more immigrants and newly freed slaves began to arrive
- How some light skinned Blacks could 'pass' as Whites and the benefits of passing, such as being allowed to use White facilities and get higher paid jobs
- Sacrifices passing Blacks had to make in order to pass successfully, resulting in many to leave behind their families and Black heritages
- The Civil Rights Movement's aid with helping in reclaiming the equal rights that were given out after the end of the Civil War