Promises to the Dead

By: Mary Downing Hahn

Characters

The main characters in Promises to the Dead, are Jesse, Uncle Philemon, Delia, Perry, Hyacinth, and Colonel Botfield. These characters help move the plot along, create conflicts and little obstacles, and explain the theme and message.

Theme

The theme of the book, Promises to the Dead, is to stick to your promises and never give up. I believe this for the following reasons. First, when the main character stumbles upon a runaway slave, he gets someone to birth the slaves baby. Before the baby was born the main character makes a promise to take the slaves other child to Baltimore if she died. The runaway slave does end up dying and the main character keeps his promise and takes the child to Baltimore. Lastly, in the book the main character, Jesse, is bringing the slaves son to Baltimore when a Colonel hurts Jesse and steals the child. Jesse heals slowly and when all hope was lost, he never gave up to find the slaves son and fulfill his promise. To conclude, the message of the book, Promises to the Dead, is to stick to your promises and never give up.

Point of View

The book Promises to the Dead, is in the first person point of view. It is told by the main character Jesse and I know it is in first person point of view because it tells about Jesse's feelings and nobody else's. In my opinion, I like how the author used first person point of view because it helps develop the main character Jesse and connects the feelings with him. It also moves the plot along to different locations because of how Jesse has to keep his promise because he is dedicated. However, it would be a lot different if it was third person omniscient or limited because it would answer a lot of questions that develop throughout the book. On the other hand, those questions add suspense and keep the reader guessing, so I like it in first person. In all, the book Promises to the Dead, is in first person point of view, I like the point of view the author has it in, and it would be way different in another point of view.

Characterization

The main character, Jesse, in the book Promises to the Dead, is brought to life in many ways through characterization. First, Jesse lives in a house with stricter uncle and when he has to get a turtle for his uncle, he runs into a runaway slave that is about to give birth. Before the slave gives birth, Jesse makes a promise to bring her other son to Baltimore if she dies. When she gives birth, she dies and Jesse keeps his promise. This shows how dedicated and committed Jesse is. Secondly, Jesse runs into several people who want to steal the slaves son, but he keeps on going. For example, at one point the slaves son, Perry, gets stolen but Jesse never gives up and finds Perry. This shows how Jesse never gives up even through obstacles. Lastly, Jesse and Perry did not get along with each other. In the end the became friends and learned to live with each other. This shows how accepting and willing Jesse is. In conclusion, the main character, Jesse, in the book Promises to the Dead, shows how he is in many ways through characterization.

Conflict

The main conflict in the book Promises to the Dead is that Jesse has to take a runaway slave's son to a place he has never been. Even though there a smaller obstacles he has to overcome, they all started from Jesse having to take a runaway slave's son to a place he has never been.