Based on the historical record of the Grimké sister’s lives as abolitionists and women’s rights advocates, Kidd not only unflinchingly displays the daily indignities and suffering of slaves, but she also explores the ways in which women of all socioeconomic classes and races were oppressed in nineteenth-century society.
This suffering is portrayed through themes, such as Sarah loss of voice representing her powerlessness, and motifs, such as flight as freedom from bondage, as depicted through the many symbols of birds and wings that appear in the novel.
This offense leads to significant consequences for both girls.
Sarah is banned from her father’s library, and Handful is whipped.
Her inability to free Handful and her desire to accomplish something useful to better the world form her character at this young age.