Who is Maggie Grayson?

Maggie is a graduate student at Yale University and she is in her mid-40s.  She has two college-age sons.  The qualities of being a mother play an important role in her relationship with the young, two-year old boy that suddenly becomes a part of her life.  Her skills and empathy for the boy draw on her identity as a mother. 

Yale Campus. Photo: Jean Cullander

She is a graduate student at a noted college which demonstrates that she is curious, able to stay focused in pursuing an issue, and achievement oriented.  When she says she will do something, she is compelled to follow through, as achievement oriented people are driven to do.  You begin to see this in the first pages of the book as she was determined to see the sights of Newport despite the driving rain.  While this seems a frivolous goal as the story opens, this tenacity continues to unfold as she meets one obstacle after another. 

Maggie, as a white woman, has always struggled with how she observes racism.  Throughout the story, she tells how her encounters with racism have haunted her and how she has tried to address discrimination on her own terms.  She is also naïve.  She wants to understand the world but her life experiences have been limited.  Her lack of knowledge but also her awareness of the need to learn makes her a good vessel for asking questions and searching for answers that leads the reader down the path of greater knowledge.  She is shocked by the cruelty of apartheid as it was practiced in Namibia as she is thrown into its independence movement.

Jean Cullander

August 22, 2016