The House of Dies Drear by Virginia Hamilton Meet Virginia Hamilton could take a slice Of fiction floating around the family and polish it into a saga. Raging Hamilton has won many awards and honors as a writer of fiction and nonfiction and a retailer of folktales. She is the first author to receive the Newbury Medal and the National Book Award for the same book-?her 1974 novel for young people M. C. Higgins, the Great. The Newbury Medal is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished children’s book of the year.
Hamilton was born on March 12, 1936, n Yellow Springs, Ohio, a town similar to the one she created for Thomas Small and his family in The House of Dies Drear. Like many other writers, she credits her family for inspiring her creativity. Hamilton remembers the family stories that were passed from person to person. She says: Hamilton grew up quite aware of her African American heritage. She knew that many of the old houses in her hometown had once been safe havens for enslaved people escaping from the South to the North and to Canada. Her own ancestors escaped slavery in the sass.
Hamilton has been interested in writing since she was a young girl. She notes, “l earned to think and to manage feelings in terms of stories. ” She began writing seriously at Antioch College in her hometown in Ohio. She attended the school on a scholarship, majored in writing, and composed her first short stories. Before finishing college, she moved to New York City, where she continued writing and worked different jobs to support herself. In 1 960 Hamilton married Arnold Doff, a poet. As newlyweds, the couple traveled to Spain and to northern Africa.
Visiting Africa had been a long-time dream of Hamiltonians, and the country made a strong impression on her. This trip would eventually influence her first evolve, Zeal, which was published in 1967. After fifteen years in New York City, Hamilton returned to her home state of Ohio. Today she lives with her husband on land that belonged to her family. Hamilton has two grown children who live in New York. She writes full time, always trying to improve her work and reach out to young people. She is particularly drawn to creating young African American characters who have a great deal of drive and inner strength.
Of Hamiltonians writing, Ethel L. Reins wrote in the review journal Horn Book: grew up within the warmth of loving aunts and uncles, all reluctant farmers but read storytellers. Remember the tales best of all. My own father was the finest of the storytellers besides being an exceptional mandolins. Mother, too, Few writers of fiction for young people are as daring, inventive, and challenging to read-?or to review-?as Virginia Hamilton. Frankly making demands on her readers, she nevertheless expresses herself in a style essentially simple and concise.
In The House of Dies Drear tried to pay back all those wonderful relatives who gave me so much in the past. Virginia Hamilton Copyright O by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. The House of Dies Drear Study Guide 9 Introducing the Novel Most of Hamiltonians books are related to the African American experience in history. In The House of Dies Drear, Hamilton also focuses on other favorite themes: family, silverberry and self-acceptance, and friendship. As you read, try to discover how Hamilton addresses these themes. The House of Dies Drear combines three types of stories.
It is a traditional mystery story with suspense, eerie legends, and dangers. It is a story of moving to a new house and beginning a new life. The characters’ interest in the Underground Railroad also makes the book a lesson in U. S. History. These three types of stories are skillfully interwoven to create a reading experience that is exciting, moving, and informative. The main story of the novel focuses on Thomas exploration Of the Oddly built house, Thomas liked the house. But the chill he had felt on seeing it from the highway was still with him. Now he knew why. It’s not the gray day, he thought.
It’s not mist and damp that sets it off. There are things beyond weather. The house has secrets! -?The House of Dies Drear (Chapter 3) In The House of Dies Drear, Thomas Small learns that his new home in Ohio played a part in African American history. Its original owner, Dies Drear, was an abolitionist-?a errors who worked to end the enslavement of African Americans in the Lignite States. His home was a station on the Underground Railroad. In the years before the Civil War, the Underground Railroad was a secret network that helped enslaved people to escape to northern free states and to Canada, where slavery was illegal.
MAJOR UNDERGROUND RAILROAD ROUTES Scale in Miles underground Railroad Routes 300 Maine Minnesota Wisconsin New York Con. Michigan Nebraska Territory Illinois Indiana Fountain City Newport Indian 10 Pennsylvania Iowa Kansas Mass. Ohio Del. Ripley Virginia Missouri Arkansas Kentucky Tennessee North Carolina Copyright by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. CANADA which has hidden doors and secret passages. The house, almost a character itself, reflects some of the qualities of the novel’s characters and the tangled web of problems within the Smalls’ new community.
It also echoes with memories of enslaved people escaping to freedom and an eccentric man who devoted his life to their cause. As one critic put it: The story itself has a curious, almostarchitectural resemblance to the house it describes: large, dark, rambling, rather frightening and leading off in strange directions. In addition to exploring the house, Thomas explores his new community and the lives of his ancestors. Like many of Hamiltonians other characters, Thomas is a sensitive, complex person with a great deal of strength. THE TIME AND PLACE The House of Dies Drear is set in the sass in a small Ohio town.
More than one hundred years earlier, the town was a stopping point for enslaved people traveling north on the Underground Railroad to Canada. The free state of Ohio was important to the Underground Railroad system. As many as 60,000 enslaved people passed through the state between 1812 and 1850. Did You Know? Slavery was introduced in the North American loonies in the 1 sass. By the next century, a system of farming called the plantation system began to prosper in the Southern colonies. Plantation owners needed inexpensive labor to raise their crops of tobacco, rice, sugarcane, and cotton.
Men and women were imported, against their will, from Africa and the Caribbean islands. Many Northerners felt that slavery was wrong, and Northern lawmakers passed laws that made slavery illegal in their states. These states became known as free states. Canada, too, declared that it would no longer allow slavery. Southerners, who considered slaves their property, passed laws against eloping enslaved people escape to free states. In 1 793 the U. S. Congress passed the first of the fugitive slave laws that made helping runaways a crime. The Fugitive Slave Act of 1 850 required Northerners to return escaped slaves to their holders.
To escape the federal laws, the fugitives had to go beyond the northern free states and on to Canada or Mexico. Tensions between the free states and the slave states had been growing. As settlers on the frontier asked that their territories be admitted to the Union as states, a decision had to be made about whether to allow slavery in each new state. When Missouri applied for statehood, a long and angry debate took place in Congress. The conflict Was resolved in 1820 with the Missouri Compromise, which allowed Missouri admission as a slave state but banned slavery north of the 36th parallel.
Many Northerners wanted to end slavery throughout the United States, not just in the North. Southern planters argued that doing away with slavery would cause the plantation system, the backbone of the Southern economy, to collapse. It was this disagreement that caused Southern states to eventually break from the United States and form their own government. This action in turn deed to the Civil War, which began in 1861. 11 Before You Read The House of Dies Drear Chapters 1-7 FOCUS ACTIVITY f you were to write a mystery story, how would you begin it? Quicker Write a few opening sentences for a mystery story.
Setting a purpose Read to learn how the Small family move to an old house draws the family into a mystery. BACKGROUND VOCABULARY PREVIEW agitated [as a TA-t ‘ ad] ads. Uneasy; upset calamity [aka lam a teeВЇ] n. Disaster lapse [laps] v. To fall; to slip pathetic [pa the ski] ads. Sorrowful; inviting pity percolating [purr aka la-t ‘ in ] ads. Seeping; filtering plunder [plus dark] v. To rob and destroy pecker [speak tar] n. Ghost; spirit 12 According to legend, the Underground Railroad got its name in 1831 when Twice Davis, an enslaved person, ran away from Kentucky to the antislavery town of Ripley, Ohio.
The slaveholder saw Davis jump into the Ohio River, reach the opposite shore, and disappear. The slaveholder told people that Davis seemed to escape on an underground road of some kind. The story spread, and the “underground road” became the “underground railroad. ” Although a real underground railroad never existed, the term is used to describe the secret and often dangerous system that helped enslaved people escape to the North. Fugitives, or enslaved people who had run away, were known as passengers. People who helped them were called conductors.
Conductors included both whites, like Dies Drear, and free blacks. Safe homes along the escape routes were called stations or depots. Some enslaved people, after escaping, returned to the South to help their families and other slaves to escape along the Underground Railroad. Harriet Tuba: Famous Conductor on the Underground Railroad One of the most famous figures of the Underground Railroad was Harriet Tuba, known as the Moses of her people. Moses was a Biblical figure who freed the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.
Tuba was an energetic and dedicated conductor on the Underground Railroad. Between 1850 and 1857, she made nineteen trips to the South and led more than 300 African Americans away from slavery.