Critique : The Travelers, R. Porter – Lycée Colbert, Lyon

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Projet : Graines de critiques littéraires / AIR Lycées


Biography

Porter Regina © Francesca Mantovani

Born in Savannah, Georgia, Regina Porter moved to Brooklyn, New York, to write and study dramatic writing. The author always loved theater and writing. Her fiction has been published in various important magazines, including The Harvard Review. Porter is an award-winning writer, with background in playwriting. She has worked with numerous companies, of which we can name Playwrights Horizons or New York Stage and Film.  

The Travelers is her first novel which depicts life in different states of the US, including the state of Georgia, her birthplace.  Indeed, this part of America inspired her to write The Travelers. According to her, aspects and fragments had been gathered for a while in her mind before it translated into a novel. The Travelers deals with time and distance through which Regina Porter tells a story of people she met during her travels.

Review : Traveling inside The Travelers

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you are probably aware of all the horrors that African Americans have been through. The Travelers by Regina Porter, published in 2019, is more than a story. It is a journey through difficult times of segregation, from the 1950s to the election of Obama in 2009. Here, the author mixes love, joy, anger and sadness into her first novel. 

Traveling In The Time of Corona: Connected By And To Reading

Apart from segregation, other controversial topics such as the place of women in society, or the absence of fathers are openly discussed. Moreover, homosexuality is an underlying subject: protagonists hide and repress their sexuality all along the book. Take for instance Flora, an African American woman from the 1970s, who was “born to early in the game to live her life openly.” In other words, the author tells us that Flora had to hide her identity from the gaze of the society in the fear of being discovered.

The Travelers is a chronicle of the struggles of the Civil Rights movement. Indeed, Agnes Miller sees her date turn into a nightmare when two police officers stop her car on a deserted road on the edge of a wood in the state of Georgia. This scene where Agnes is humiliated and raped is the trigger of the story. It is significant that one of the police officers treats Agnes as a “cargo”. In other words, he sees Agnes, a black woman, as an object, not a human being. This attitude underlines two of the general ideas of the book:  racism and sexism. 

The language of the novel makes the reading process an immersive experience. Indeed, the narrator changes in each chapter. Thus, each character voices their own story differently. Depending on places and times, they do not express themselves in the same way. This diversity of voices highlights social inequalities between the protagonists depending on their class and education. 

We highly recommend this book which helped us understand events like segregation or the Vietnam War. We think that its compassionate love stories make this novel a poignant book that will not leave you insensitive.

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