After seeing Renee Zellweger win the Academy Award last night for her portrayal of Ruby in the movie adaptation of Charles Frazier's Cold Mountain, I felt that I had to go get my copy of the book and look something up. You see, I had been laboring under the impression that the character of Ruby was black.
Looking at Frazier's text, it is devoid of any of the ante bellum racial labels that might apply and merely describes Ruby thus:
Ada examined the girl further. She was a dark thing, corded through the neck and arms. Frail chested. Her hair was black and coarse as a horse's tail. Broad across the bridge of her nose. Big dark eyes, virtually pupil-less, the whites of them startling in their clarity. She went shoeless, but her feet were clean. The nails to her toes were pale and silver like fish scales. [Frazier 67]
Looking on the description, I can see how I might have interpreted "dark thing" to infer that Ruby was black, but, the lack of other racially-based descriptors could mean that she was merely Mediterranian in appearance.
I kind of liked the notion of her being black though. It reinforced themes in the book about how women of all classes and races band together to maintain the social fabric in the absence of men, even in a racially divided society such as the ante bellum South. In the end though, that may be overreaching.
I still don't think the description fits Renee Zellweger though.
on 2004-03-01 at 6:10 a.m.
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