"Am I a secret?" I asked my mother.
"No," she said. "You are an unknown. That little girl there doesn't even know she has a sister. You know everything."
"God knows everything," I said "He's got the whole world in in his hands."
"That's true," my mother said. "And so do we."
There is something unnervingly exciting about secrets. The mysteries they hold are enticing. The untold stories that provoke them them are alluring. The unknown information grips our minds, capturing the attention of our inquisitive brains. Tayari Jones's 'Silver Sparrow' is full of them, bits and pieces of unknown information. Ironically however, the very first line is an exposed secret. My father, James Witherspoon is a bigamist. But the information is not laid bare without some value to it. It is her illegitimacy that grants her this power. She knows what Chaurisse does not. She knows the truth. Dana Lynn chooses to share what she knows, and it is in that choice that she both feels and exerts power.
But Dana's power is as crippling as it is authoritative. Like she is the unknown daughter, her power is also unknown. She cannot expose her father without exposing herself. This is the burden of Dana's secret, the dismantling affect of her power. After all, what good is power if it is not displayed? Ironically, the source of Dana's power is also the source of her freedom--the truth. Yes, her illegitimacy grants her more knowledge than Chaurisse, but her illegitimacy is also the cause of her anger, her shame. But in between autonomy and embarrassment, there is balance. Dana's balance is the marriage between truth and love. In acknowledging the truth of who she is, and how she came to be, she is loved. In reckoning with the truth, Dana can move forward. She admits, "people say that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger. But they are wrong. What doesn't kill you, doesn't kill you. That's all you get. Sometimes, you just have to hope that's enough."
Dana's story is not a fairy tale. It begins with a secret, and is rooted in illegitimacy, but it ends in truth. And truth is always enough.
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