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Ruby Summary & Study Guide

Cynthia Bond
This Study Guide consists of approximately 37 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Ruby.
This section contains 517 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Ruby Summary & Study Guide Description

Ruby Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Ruby by Cynthia Bond.

“Ruby” is an African-American historical-fantasy by Cynthia Bond. The story recounts the relationship between Ruby Bell, a woman considered to be crazy, and Ephram Jennings, a man considered weak and worthless by a town with dark secrets. The novel begins in 1974. Ephram is a lifelong resident of Liberty Township in East Texas. He has known Ruby since she was a child. He knows that she lived in New York for several years and that following her return from New York, she appeared to go crazy. She is mocked by the locals who feel that she was born with a mental illness.

Ephram has deep feelings for Ruby for two reasons. First, he has romantic inclinations toward her, and he knows what it is like to have a loved one who has gone crazy. As a child, Ephram’s mother went crazy and was committed to a mental institution. Celia, Ephram's older sister, has cared for him since that time. Celia balks at Ephram’s concern for Ruby because she sees Ruby as a threat. Celia has spent her life caring for her brother, and she will not allow another woman to take him away.

Ephram begins caring for Ruby, from bathing her to cleaning up her house to tending to her old family property. The locals gossip about this. As Ephram befriends Ruby, she reveals her past to him. The town's past also begins to unfold. Ruby is not crazy, but she is a magnet and conduit for spirits, especially the spirits of dead children. She is plagued by an evil spirit, a Dybou, from whom she protects the children. The Dybou is the spirit of Ephram and Celia’s dead father, Reverend Jennings. As a youngster, Reverend Jennings had been raped by his mother, only to begin a sexual affair with her. She became pregnant, and he was kicked out.

Reverend Jennings and other prominent members of the town had all long participated in black magic and voodoo gatherings at night, where they brutally molested and raped very young girls, including Ruby. This was discovered by Ephram’s mother, an upstanding Christian woman who went crazy because of it. Celia also chanced upon one such gathering which she blamed on Ruby, for Ruby especially caught her father’s eye. Reverend Jennings was later found hanged, his spirit empowered to remain on Earth through a dark enchantment.

It is also revealed that Reverend Jennings had secretly been prostituting Ruby out since the age of six. Ruby had been sexually molested from the age of five. In the present day, Ruby is continually sought out and raped by various men in town. She expects no different from Ephram, but Ephram proves he is not the same as the others. At Celia’s request, many of the locals try to force Ephram and Ruby apart, but they are unsuccessful in doing so. Ephram comes to help Ruby tend to the spirits attached to her and drives away the Dybou. Though Celia is finally successful in baptizing Ephram, she cannot prevent Ephram from staying with Ruby.

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This section contains 517 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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