Prevailing Themes In Swamp Gravy Essay, Research Paper
Prevailing Themes in Swamp Gravy
Cera D. Ridley
October 12, 1999
South Georgians from different backgrounds, sharing various experiences in life, all have a story to tell. Swamp Gravy portrays these real life stories with a unique staging technique, allowing the audience to be involved and participate during the performance. The play illustrates folk life in the past and celebrates the way things use to be when life was simple. The stories told in Swamp Gravy are derived from local tales and histories of the community that reveal themes about death, family, and relationships.
The theme of death was evident in the first act of the play. The main character, Harvey, was only a young child when his mother died a month after giving birth to a baby girl. After his mother’s death, Harvey and his five other siblings were separated and labeled as orphans. Harvey had no mother and his father was not a positive figure in Harvey’s life. He felt a sense of abandonment, loneliness, and a voidance of love. As the play progressed, a young girl who lost her big brother in a car accident told another story about death. The younger sister admired and looked up to her older brother. She was saddened by the death of her brother, but she held on to the memory of him, as did Harvey remember his mother.
Swamp Gravy exemplified the importance of family throughout the play. A large family was common and displayed a sense of unity and love. Harvey’s youngest sister was adopted when she was a baby. She always felt emptiness in her heart and often dreamed of someday meeting her biological family. Harvey, also determined to find his baby sister, never gave up hope. During one scene of the play, a family convened in the swamp for a family reunion. Even though the family’s cousins were escaped convicts, the family still wanted to include them in the reunion because the were family. The scene featuring the triplets, Bessie, Ressie, and Essie also emphasized the theme of family. The three women shared close relationships with one another throughout their youthful lives and were continuing to grow older together.
Relationships of brothers and sisters, fathers and sons, and man with God were developed in the play. Most of these relationships were considered to be special in their own way. However, Harvey and his father were not close and frequently argued, causing both of them to become dependent on alcohol. As Harvey grew older, he became more depressed. It was not until he attained a close relationship with God and sought a relationship with his younger sister that Harvey became truly happy.
The various scenes and stories in the play reflect the folk life of South Georgia in the past. The play’s themes of death, family, and relationships support the real life situations that compose this drama. Swamp Gravy allows one to observe folk life and folkways and appreciate, as well as cherish, the past of South Georgia.