Crumbs from the Table of Joy

by

Lynn Nottage

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Ermina Crump Character Analysis

Ermina is Ernestine’s younger sister, a 15-year-old Black girl who has just moved to Brooklyn from Florida. Unlike Ernestine, who is relatively shy and reserved, Ermina is extroverted and eager to meet boys her own age—something that her father, Godfrey, strictly forbids, since his newfound religious views champion the idea of chastity. When Ernestine and Ermina find a beautiful lace sample in a department store, Ermina steals it so that her older sister can sew it onto her graduation dress, since their late mother wanted her to have a beautiful gown for the occasion. Ermina ends up getting pregnant at a relatively young age, when Ernestine is still in college, ultimately suggesting that her father’s overprotective ways did nothing to prevent her from pursuing romantic affection. Ermina is also the one who officially identifies Lily’s dead body years later while visiting her grandmother in the South.

Ermina Crump Quotes in Crumbs from the Table of Joy

The Crumbs from the Table of Joy quotes below are all either spoken by Ermina Crump or refer to Ermina Crump. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
).
Prologue Quotes

Death nearly crippled my father slipping beneath the soles of his feet and taking away his ability to walk at will. Death made him wail like a god awful banshee. (Godfrey wails like a god awful banshee.) Like the 12:01 steam boat mooring. (Godfrey continues to wail.) Death made strangers take hold of our hands and recount endless stories of mommy. In church, at work, strolling, laughing, eating […]. Death made us nauseous with regret. It clipped daddy’s tongue and put his temper to rest. Made folks shuffle and bow their heads. But it wouldn’t leave us be, tugging at our stomachs and our throats. And then one day it stopped and we took the train north to New York City.

Related Characters: Ernestine Crump (speaker), Godfrey Crump, Ermina Crump
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

ERNESTINE. […] Divine was God, and God was liable do as he pleased, but you see Daddy was just a poor colored man — (Godfrey looks up from his newspaper.)

GODFREY. (With Ernestine.) from Pensacola, and I gone out my way to keep trouble a few arms lengths ’way. I don’ want to wind up like them Scottsboro boys, but you wouldn’t remember. (Godfrey speaks, Ernestine mouths the words:) Terrible mess, terrible mess.

Related Characters: Ernestine Crump (speaker), Godfrey Crump (speaker), Ermina Crump, Father Divine
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 1 Quotes

GODFREY. You graduating? (Ernestine nods. Godfrey breaks into a smile.) Nah…. A first. You really gonna graduate? You’re gonna be a high school graduate like Percy Duncan, Roberta Miles, Sarah Dickerson, Elmore Sinclair, Chappy Phillips and Ernestine Clump. (Ernestine bashful covers her face.)

ERNESTINE. Not quite yet!

GODFREY. Why didn’t you say something?

ERNESTINE. Didn’t I? (A moment. Godfrey embarrassed takes out his note pad.)

GODFREY. … The New Day come?

Related Characters: Ernestine Crump (speaker), Godfrey Crump (speaker), Ermina Crump, Father Divine
Related Symbols: The Graduation Dress, The Notepad
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

Go on say it, tongue won’t fall out. The communist party, amongst other things. (Ermina giggles.) Oh you find that funny? (Earnestly.) I ain’t laughing. I suppose ya happy with what you got, a bit of nothing. Sure I was happy at your age “a little pickaninny” selling hot cakes to the fishermen. Taking pennies from poor people ain’t a job it’s a chore. This may be New York, but this still the basement. Don’t none of those crackers want to share any bit of power with us. That’s what it’s about. Red scare, should be called black scare.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Ermina Crump, Godfrey Crump, Ernestine Crump
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 3 Quotes

ERMINA. Why’d you lose your job?

LILY. Well babies, a Negro woman with my gumption don’t keep work so easily. It’s one of the hazards of being an independent thinker.

Related Characters: Ermina Crump (speaker), Lily (speaker), Ernestine Crump
Page Number: 22
Explanation and Analysis:

Nobody ask me…. Besides I never plan to marry. How you like that? I’m exerting my own will, and since the only thing ever willed for me was marriage, I choose not to do it. And why take just one man, when you can have a lifetime full of so many. Listen up, that may be the best advice I give you babies. And you needn’t share that little pearl of wisdom with your daddy.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Ernestine Crump, Ermina Crump, Godfrey Crump
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 1, Scene 4 Quotes

I left Florida for a reason, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t do nothing but go to work, make my dime and drink it down on Friday night. Then I found something that gave me inspiration, gave me strength to make a change. May not be like your change, revolution! Oh but it do feel that big to me. It soothed my pain and that’s all I want right now. It took all the strength I had to take these gals on a train out their wooden doors and place ’em here in brick and concrete.

Related Characters: Godfrey Crump (speaker), Lily, Ernestine Crump, Ermina Crump, Father Divine
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

And I think I deserve some respect and you’re trying me, you’re trying me. (Sniffs the air. Lily smiles seductively.) I smell the liquor and the sweat. I see the juke box swirling and the cats laughing. (He begins to laugh, lost in the memory.) I can hear the big sister on stage hollering out her song. Go on sing! (He stomps his feet.) But I ain’t going there. Taste my lips puffing on a Cuba, talking out my ass. (He pulls Lily close to him and does a few quick dance steps, then releases her.) Feel my hands ’round a woman’s hips, swaying to the beat. But I ain’t there! (He storms out the door.)

Related Characters: Godfrey Crump (speaker), Lily, Ernestine Crump, Ermina Crump
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:
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Crumbs from the Table of Joy PDF

Ermina Crump Character Timeline in Crumbs from the Table of Joy

The timeline below shows where the character Ermina Crump appears in Crumbs from the Table of Joy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Prologue
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
Seventeen-year-old Ernestine Crump sits on a park bench in Brooklyn with her 15-year-old sister, Ermina, and her father, Godfrey. Directly addressing the audience, she explains that the grief of her... (full context)
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
...a hanged photograph of a man named Father Divine. While he was gone, Ernestine and Ermina would go to school, where the other girls made fun of them for their southern... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
It’s the 1950s, and everybody around Ernestine and Ermina is talking about the threat of communism—except, that is, for their father, whose main concern... (full context)
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
On a Sunday evening, Ernestine and Ermina want to listen to the radio, but Godfrey won’t let them. He reminds them that... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 1
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
As Ermina sorts through the mail one day, Godfrey impatiently asks if Father Divine has finally responded... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Ermina continues sorting through the mail and comes across a letter from Father Divine. Godfrey is... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
...will no longer be Godfrey Crump, but Godfrey Goodness. Ernestine will be Darling Angel, and Ermina will be Devout Mary. Before signing off, Father Divine urges Godfrey to join the Peace... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
Godfrey is elated by Father Divine’s letter, but Ermina doesn’t like the sound of her new name. She wonders how she’ll ever get the... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
One day, a woman dressed in stylish clothes arrives at the apartment. Ernestine and Ermina reluctantly let her in, though Ermina has no idea who she is. Ernestine explains to... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...that it was worth it to break into a field full of white men. When Ermina asks what an etymologist does, though, Lily simply says that she won’t bore them with... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...begrudgingly goes into the hall to get Lily’s bags while Lily talks to Ernestine and Ermina. When he returns, he asks if she’s going to stay, and she says, “Only if... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...single beds pushed together so that Lily can have her own place to sleep. She, Ermina, and Lily are now sitting in the kitchen as Lily straightens Ermina’s hair. The girls... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Ermina tells Lily that Ernestine wants to be a movie star, so Lily teases her about... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...visit the Peace Mission to make sure everything is ready for Father Divine’s upcoming visit. Ermina is in the living room when Lily bursts into the apartment and stumbles into a... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 6
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
...him, wanting to know where he has been. But he manages to endear himself to Ermina by giving her a cookie and explaining that he simply needed to clear his head.... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
Ermina asks why, if Father Divine is God, he can’t just fly to the banquet. But... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
In the coming months, Ermina takes an interest in boys and starts imitating the slang she hears in the neighborhood.... (full context)
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
Back at the apartment, Gerte chops cabbage as Ernestine works on her graduation dress. Meanwhile, Ermina interrogates Gerte, asking her if she’s anti-Semitic like the Nazis. The question offends Gerte, who... (full context)
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...then complains about how Lily always twists her intentions around, adding that she’s Ernestine and Ermina’s stepmother, meaning that she does have some authority in the household. This leads to a... (full context)
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Addressing the audience, Ernestine says that she and Ermina went to the department store to admire the lace every day until Ermina finally worked... (full context)
Epilogue
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...and holding her diploma. She has just graduated. Back at the apartment, Godfrey, Gerte, and Ermina throw a celebratory party for her. As they celebrate, though, Godfrey reveals that he has... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Years later, Ernestine narrates, she will return to Brooklyn to visit Godfrey, Gerte, and Ermina. Ermina will give birth to her first child before Ernestine has graduated college. Ermina will... (full context)