In Silent Ties we witness the tragic deaths of two young men of about the same age, one white and one black. However, the reaction of that small town to each event is so different. Tucker James died from a violent attack with no reason given. His death was virtually overlooked by the community at large, insignificant. Justice will never be deemed important; no one will be held accountable. We see it as a flash in the life of Addie and her family, until years later when Missy is momentarily reminded that he was someone loved, cherished, and missed.
Ezekiel died after a long battle with health issues, yet his death was mourned by the entire town as a tragic event that should never have happened. Missy experienced both deaths. At the time, and almost fifty years later when she is bringing her story to light, she writes of Tucker James as a quick passing event, even forgetting her friend’s pain for much of their childhood. Ezekiel’s death, however, is seen as a significant event, one that she dwells on and which impacts her greatly.
Those feelings of her youth are carried forward into adulthood. In the way she records her story, we see that she still does not understand that the two deaths should be seen as equal. We, as witnesses, must see that both of these young men, who will never see the age of nineteen, were important, with lives to be valued, and deaths to be mourned.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana