The Warmth of Other Suns

The Warmth of Other Suns

by

Isabel Wilkerson

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The Warmth of Other Suns: Part Four: The Things They Left Behind Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In the North and West, 1915-2000. Migrants leave behind their loved ones, their homes, and some of their Southern traditions. Wilkerson’s mother always remembered how her own mother cared for her night-blooming cereus, which only blossoms once per year, and invited the whole neighborhood over to watch when it did. But migrants try to preserve other traditions, including their cuisine, dialect, religion, and holidays. They set up clubs with other people from the same towns, send money home, and always remind their children where they came from.
The Great Migration leaves a permanent mark on the cultures of both the North and the South. Despite bringing elements of Black Southern culture to the North, it also causes Black culture to diverge permanently between the North and the South. Wilkerson’s grandmother’s night-blooming cereus represents the aspects of Southern culture that simply cannot be reproduced in the North (as the cereus cannot survive Northern winters) and the tight-knit communities that migrants often have to leave behind. Their hometown clubs show that they try their best to maintain these links and strengthen their hometowns, but Wilkerson admits that they can never recreate them perfectly.
Themes
Migration and Freedom Theme Icon
History, Memory, and Identity Theme Icon
The Legacy of the Migration Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Quotes