3. It was just that they knew, as she knew about them. That they were transplanted, as they had always been, to a place where they fit like extra toes on a foot. Where they were trusted by no one, exploited, when possible, by anyone with political ambitions.
This comment appears in the third “Lynne” chapter and refers to Lynne’s evolving perceptions of race, religion, ethnic identity, and what it means to be a minority in the South. Lynne is musing on a Jewish-owned deli in the town where she lived with Truman and worked for the civil rights movement. Lynne feels she was given a cold reception each time she shopped there because she was in an interracial marriage. However, she realizes that the experience of many southern Jews, subjected to anti-Semitism, was similar to the racism faced by blacks. Lynne is an outsider in both the community and the movement because of her color and religious upbringing, and she feels this separation more pointedly as the novel progresses. In drawing these conclusions about the Jews she met in her town, Lynne acknowledges a common history of dislocation, loss of identity, struggle, and mourning, whether via slavery, segregation, racism, genocide, or anti-Semitism. One history of abuse is no more tragic than another, yet the ultimate irony is that Lynne has chosen to align herself with an oppressed people who fail to acknowledge their essential commonality. She is a figure forced to the fringes, a wanderer uprooted time and again, with no sense of belonging.