The Shadow Knows Summary
Diane Johnson

Everything you need to understand or teach The Shadow Knows by Diane Johnson.

  • The Shadow Knows Summary & Study Guide

The Shadow Knows Summary

Set in northern California, in the suburbs of Sacramento, The Shadow Knows deals with such universal themes and social concerns as race relations, especially between whites and blacks; relations between household help and the people who employ them; and the eternal triangle of husband-wife-mistress. Without pushing any special feminist agenda, Johnson is particularly concerned in this novel with the efforts of a divorced woman trying to look after her small children, earn an advanced degree, hang on to her lover, and keep her sanity.

Race relations come into focus through the relations between household help and their employers: Both social concerns are intertwined. Mrs. N. Hexam first employs Osella Barnes to help clean and cook and look after her four small children. Recently widowed, Osella is an enormous black woman still in her forties who had been Gavin Hexam's mammy long ago.

Osella takes...

(read more from the Short Guide)

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