House of Purple Cedar
It would be difficult not to be affected by Tim Tingle’s House of Purple Cedar. Fire, hatred, murder, domestic abuse and culture clashes all have a place. The story revolves around the memories of Rose Goode, a Choctaw Indian, as she was growing up in the once vibrant town of Skullyville in the late 1800s. The many storylines are woven together in a captivating style. If you listen closely, you can almost hear Tim telling the story in his soft and gentle voice from the Indian perspective.
The story highlights the tensions between the Choctaw people and the non-Indian community, or nuhillos. It begins with a fire at Rose’s school, which kills 20 girls, including one of Rose’s best friends. The townspeople of Skullyville are victims of the evil Marshal Robert Hardwicke, who terrorizes anyone in his path especially when he is drunk. The marshal publicly humiliates Rose’s grandfather by striking him for no reason, brutally beats his wife, kills an innocent man and commits other terrible acts.
There are positive characters in Skullyville, too, such as Rose’s grandfather, William Goode or Amafo, who chooses good over evil. How Amafo chooses to handle his public humiliation sets the stage for future events. Maggie Johnson, a store assistant who befriends Amafo, the stationmaster John Burleson, and Samuel Willis who quietly assists the marshal’s wife Ona Mae Hardwick after one of many beatings, are other key characters.
House of Purple Cedar is beautifully written. It brings back to life the struggles and triumphs of a once thriving community.
Cinco Puntos Press
|Check This Out At A Tulsa Library||