The Glory Field

Summary of this page: This is about the 1994 novel written by Walter Dean Myers.This book is split into sections. Each section tells about a different member of the Lewis family in his or her time period. The story starts with a captured slave, Muhammad Bilal, and goes all the way down to a musician, Malcolm Lewis. Rated Good by LaMesa

July 1753, off the coast of Sierra Leone, West Africa
The first part of the story tells of Muhammad Bilal, who is also called Hammad by his descendants (though he doesn't know it!). Muhammad is eleven years old when he is captured by slave catchers. As revealed later in the story, Muhammad was fighting a lion (Simba) when the slave catchers came. They caught him after he had killed the lion and was on the ground, exhausted. The slave catchers were of the same race as Muhammad. They were not white.
The story starts when Muhammad is on the crowded slave ship. He is shackled. The shackles reappear later in the book as well. The chapter describes a man with a dry throat and the dust on the ship. The place where Muhammad is sent to is Curry Island.

March 1864, Live Oaks Plantation, Curry Island, South Carolina
Things jump almost 100 years to Lizzy Lewis, a slave who works on the Live Oaks Plantation. She is probably fourteen. She is related to the Lewises by marriage (the slaves take the last name of their owner). Lizzy lives withMoses and Saran. Moses is the great-grandson of Muhammad.
Moses' brother, Joshua, has escaped. Joshua is married to Neela, who is owned by Foster. Neela and Joshua were married secretly, because Foster wanted to split the children, though Lewis did not. When Joshua find out that Foster is going to be selling some slaves, he figures Neela will be sold and runs away in advance.
Moses' son and Joshua's nephew, Lem Lewis, has also escaped. Lem is recaptured during this chapter and is tied to a tree in the forest, like a bait. The bait is supposed to catch Joshua, as Joshua will probably try and free Lem. However, it is Lizzy who goes to Lem during the night--she sneaks out to bring him water. However, Joe Haynes, the overseer, catches her. In the forest, Lizzy is beaten, Joshua comes to rescue Lizzy and Lem, and then Lizzy runs away with Lem. The chapter ends semi-abruptly, with Lizzy having run away. Lizzy later marries Richard, Lem's brother. It is in this section that the Glory Field gets its name, as Moses shouted "Oh, Glory!" while on the land.

April 1900, Live Oaks Plantation, Curry Island, South Carolina
About 30 years have passed, and Lizzy and Richard Lewis' child, Elijah, is the protagonist. Moses and Saran now have 8 acres of land bordering Live Oaks, but their not being able to pay taxes is a problem, and they worry about losing their land. Suddenly, a blind boy, David Turner, is lost when on a trip with Foster. Hamlin Turner, David's wealthy father, offers 35 dollars for someone to find David. Elijah and his cousin Abby volunteer to get the money, and Elijah is confident he will be able to find David, as he knows the whole place well. Sheriff Glover also volunteers to go with Elijah and Abby, so they head off. Elijah originally steers toward Key Island, where he thinks David is, but once on the island, he realizes that it is not Key Island. However, Elijah finds David and Foster, who is holding on to David. Foster has a broken leg. Elijah calls Sheriff Glover over (Abby is keeping the boat anchored). They get successfully back to Curry Island, but Sheriff Glover gets all the credit and is in the newspaper, where Elijah's name is not mentioned. However, Elijah does actually get 35 dollars later, because Hamlin says that his boy is more important than any amount of money. Elijah gives the money to Saran and Moses, who call it "stuck money", which is money that sticks in a black person's hand for more than two minutes, instead of money that a slaveowner gives then takes right back after making some "calculations" on a pad. A new man in town, Frank Petty, wants to borrow Elijah's boat, the Pele Queen. Elijah tells him no. Drunk and armed with his fellow drunk friends, Frank Petty plans on beating Elijah that night. However, Sheriff Glover comes by Elijah's house and warns the family. With 17 dollars in his pocket which Saran and Moses pushed upon him, Elijah goes up north to Chicago and stay with Joshua Lewis. He brings the shackles. Later, Goldie Paige, Elijah's girlfriend, goes up to Chicago, and they get married.

May 1930, Chicago, Illionois
Elijah and Goldie have wed and now have a son and a daughter. The son is named Richard Lewis, after Elijah's father. The daughter is named Luvenia Lewis. Luvenia is the protagonist of this section. Luvenia and her godmother, Miss Etta, live in an apartment in Chicago until Elijah, who is at Curry Island, decides that they are permanently moving back to Curry Island. Luvenia can do hair very well, and the section begins with her doing up Miss Etta's hair. Luvenia works for the Deets family, which comprises of Mr. Deets, Mrs. Deets, Florenz Deets, and Precious (dog). Florenz goes to the University of Chicago, and Luvenia longs to go there too. While Florenz is unaware of this fact, Luvenia secretly reads Florenz's textbook for a while, and is able to answer all the review questions at the end of the chapter. Luvenia dreams of going to the University of Chicago, but needs to have a steady income of 11 dollars a week for 4 years to be able to get a loan. Out of nowhere, Florenz and her friend, Katie Hornung, decide that they want to drive Mr. Deets' old car (the Ford) around, because, after all, he takes only the new car to work (the Oldsmobile), and the Ford sits there gathering dust. Florenz devises a plan to be able to drive the car around town and requests for Luvenia's permission. Luvenia says that she will assist. Florenz calls her father and tells him that Luvenia is having "female trouble" and might be in a "family way". She tells him that the white hospital won't accept her, and that she has to drive her to the black hospital, all the way around town. Florenz knows her father will not probe into the situation, as he is "old-fashioned" and does not inquire about the "female trouble". The plan succeeds, and Luvenia, Florenz, and Katie drive to the park, where they meet Tom, who Florenz and Katie know. Luvenia is dropped off at her apartment while Florenz and her friends go off for "a spin", but when she gets back, she has a telegraph from Mr. Parish saying that her services "are no longer required". Crying, she approaches Miss Etta, who completely ignores her and continues to talk about a yellow woman whose coffin split. Miss Etta tells Luvenia that a black woman losing her job isn't anything, and that she can just start up again. Miss Etta hosts a rent party for Luvenia. Luvenia later starts a hair-styling business on her own. Her cosmetic factory is called Mahogany Beauty Products.

January 1964, Johnson City, South Carolina
Tommy Lewis is the grandson of Abby, Elijah's cousin. Tommy is a basketball star who plays for the Curry Cougars. The section begins with a basketball game, Curry vs Delaney (formerly Calhoun), the heavy favorite. After the Curry Cougars win the championship, Leonard Chase, a basketball scout, offers Tommy an opportunity to skip his last year of high school and go to college, as long as he does not get mixed up in any riots or marches. When he gets home, Tommy gets news that his white friend, Skeeter, has been bitten by a rattlesnake. Tommy's family rushes Skeeter to the hospital, where he makes a recovery. However, when Skeeter is attacked by the KKK for marching with the blacks and almost loses an eye, Tommy wants to do something. At a press conference, he shackles himself to Sheriff Moser, a sheriff who does not allow protests in Johnson City. When Sheriff Moser tells Tommy to unshackle him as this is an "illegal demonstration", Tommy tells him that when his ancestor was sent to America to be a slave, they shackled him with these shackles. He tells the Sheriff that the slave catchers only gave him the shackles, and that they did not give him the key. Tommy ends up in jail with a white man named Bobby Joe. Bobby Joe is given a pistol. When he is released, Tommy finds out that Leonard Chase will not help him get into college.

August 1994, Harlem, New York
Luvenia is the great-aunt of Malcolm Lewis, a musician who starts a music group called String Theory. Malcolm works for Luvenia. We learn that the Glory Field is about to become a resort, and the Lewises are having a family reunion on the Glory Field. Malcolm holds auditions for String Theory, and a Chinese girl, Jenn Po, auditions. She plays amplified cello. She is extremely talented and wants to try a new kind of music, instead of the classical music she usually plays. Malcolm and his drug-addicted cousin, Shep, are given money to fly to the Glory Field. Shep takes responsibility of his money, though he spends it on drugs as soon as he can, so the two boys have to ride the bus. The bus trip is not very pleasant, as Shep throws up. The boys are kicked out and ride in the back of a truck (which is transporting tannery products) to the Glory Field. At the family reunion, they meat Dr. Jennie Lewis, Tommy's widow and Planter Lewis, Tommy's father. Tommy died in Vietnam. The Lewis family brings in the final crop of sweet potatoes from the Glory Field.

Malcolm returns to Harlem. He receives word that Planter has died and receives a package in the mail. It contains--SPOILER ALERT!--the shackles once worn by Muhammad Bilal, bought back for 200 dollars by Planter.


I think that The Glory Field is quite a good book! It is written in the dialect of the time period, and the characters are very real. The ending is so sweet. This summary is only the tip of the iceberg. You should really read The Glory Field!
LaMesa Good