Prologue / Warfield
Seven years have passed since Appomattox. Thomas has completed his studies at a southern university and is now teaching literature at the exclusive Westminster Academy in Memphis and writing his autobiography. He begins the narrative, Warfield, describing his idyllic youth living on a prosperous antebellum Tennessee farm with his father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, brother (Robert), sister (Rachel), a female slave (Bella), and Bella’s mentally challenged adult son (Israel). Thomas is finishing his final years at the one-room Sugar Grove School, where a young Scotsman, Master Hudson, “commands his stage and teaches the class in pictures.” Thomas illustrates the “providential intersections” between what he learns at school and what his mother teaches him at home about mathematics, religion, geography and color. And within each of these childhood anecdotes, Thomas weaves ominous foreshadowing about events to occur some chapters in the future.
Warfield is a historically accurate, coming-of-age novel set during the Civil War depicting the tortured lives of the young narrator, Thomas, and his family before, during and after the gods “declare war on them.” This opening novel introduces many of the major motifs recurring throughout the Your Winding Daybreak Ways series including race, ill treatment of the oppressed, loss, appearance and reality, isolation and loneliness, courage, and unconditional love. In addition, Warfield introduces several of the major themes expressed in the Your Winding Daybreak Ways series—“Life does indeed rob us of so much more than death ever could;” “They found a gritty determination to exist…to soldier on…to see the mission through to the end;” and “The tragedy of life is not that man loses but that he almost wins.”