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Literature / Elijah of Buxton

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Elijah Of Buxton is a book by Christopher Paul Curtis.

Elijah is the first free-born black person in the Canadian town of Buxton, Ontario. He's never known the lash of the whip or the toils of many a slave down in the United States. He is a rather well-behaved boy who is always helping people around the town.

One day, one of the townsfolk, Mr. Leroy, comes into a large sum of gold that he intends to use to buy his family out of slavery, and is eager to head down to the States to get them. However, the local Preacher is also keen to go down to Buxton when he hears word of the money and, against Mr. Leroys better judgement, he is allowed to go on the trip (on the grounds that they bring a third person, Mr. Highgate, to keep tabs on him) while Mr. Leroy stays behind to work. However, some days later, Mr. Highgate comes back in a cart, wounded, by himself, and with word that The Preacher shot him and stole the money.

Mr. Leroy is enraged by the news, and Elijah is wracked with guilt, since he recommended the Preacher come along. Mr. Leroy vows to go down to the States and get back the money, and he decides to have Elijah come along to help, since Elijah can read.

The book was published in 2007.

Elijah of Buxton contains examples of:

  • Bittersweet Ending: Mr. Leroy dies without having regained his money, and Elijah had to leave behind several slaves with Mr. Leroy's gun. However, Elijah was able to get the baby of one of the slaves back to Buxton, ensuring that baby a better life than she would've had in the States.
  • Con Man: The Preacher sure has some vibes of this. He's a smooth-talker, quite persuasive, and has a gun.
  • Creepy Doll: Emma Collins carries around a dollnote  made from a stuffed sock that has a rope tied around its neck to make a head. It also has two big brown buttons for eyes, and six little white buttons as the teeth. Elijah thinks the doll is scary.
  • Driven to Suicide: Down in the United States, Elijah comes across a group of slaves chained to a wall, all of whom are naked except for a rag. After all his pitched ideas are shot down, the woman asks Elijah to leave Mr. Leroy's gun with them. Elijah catches on after a while why she asked him to do that.
  • N-Word Privileges: Deconstructed. Elijah nearly says the n-word once, and it gets him a beating on the grounds that it represents hatred.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: After getting information on where to find the Preacher, Elijah and Mr. Leroy are riding to him, when Mr. Leroy just falls off the horse. Elijah goes back to him and discovers he's dying. Mr. Leroy makes Elijah swear he'll kill the Preacher with his last breath.
  • Unwanted Rescue:MaWee is actually pretty upset about the Preacher coming to the circus and bringing him back to Buxton.