Crumbs from the Table of Joy

by

Lynn Nottage

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Godfrey Crump Character Analysis

Godfrey Crumb is Black man who has recently moved from Florida to Brooklyn with his daughters, Ernestine and Ermina. Godfrey was inspired to travel north after his wife’s death, which sent him into a spiral of grief. The implication is that Godfrey turned to alcohol after his wife’s death, but then he came into contact with the teachings of Father Divine, a (real-life) religious leader. Inspired by Father Divine’s message of love, peace, and faith, Godfrey stopped drinking and moved to New York, thinking that’s where Father Divine’s movement (the Peace Mission Movement) was situated. It was only after arriving in New York that Godfrey learned Father Divine had moved to Philadelphia, but he decided to stay, taking a job in a bakery. He, Ernestine, and Ermina now live in a small apartment in a mostly Jewish neighborhood. Godfrey seldom lets his daughters out of the apartment, worrying that the outside world is full of evil and danger. He spends most of his time thinking about questions he wants to ask Father Divine when he finally meets him in person. Whenever a difficult topic comes up, he takes out a notepad and writes something down, explaining at one point that he’s keeping track of the many questions he wants to pose to Father Divine. When he marries a German woman named Gerte, he effectively follows Father Divine’s example by marrying a white woman but refraining from sexually consummating the marriage. The marriage upsets Godfrey’s daughters, but it especially rankles Godfrey’s former sister-in-law, Lily, with whom Godfrey seems to have a romantic history. But Godfrey ends up standing by Gerte, prompting Lily to disappear from his life.

Godfrey Crump Quotes in Crumbs from the Table of Joy

The Crumbs from the Table of Joy quotes below are all either spoken by Godfrey Crump or refer to Godfrey 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:

Father Divine…. Ever since Mommy passed on, he stands between us and our enjoyment. Daddy discovered Father Divine when he was searching to cure “the ailments of the heart,” those terrible fits of mourning that set in. (Godfrey begins to weep, loudly.) Father Divine, the great provider, sent his blessing via mail. And shortly there after Daddy was cured.

Related Characters: Ernestine Crump (speaker), Godfrey Crump, Father Divine
Page Number: 8
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:

GODFREY. (Flabbergasted.) We’re now part of his flock, we’re capable of entering the Kingdom. (Godfrey, still in the heavenly daze, reaches into his wallet and counts out his money.) This is just about the best news I’ve heard.

Related Characters: Godfrey Crump (speaker), Ernestine Crump, Father Divine
Page Number: 15
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

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:

[…] I wondered had her revolution already begun? So I went down to the Public library round my way, “Revolution, American, Revolutionary War, Revolution, French.” But no Negro Revolution. I did find twenty entries on communism in the card catalogue, but no books on the shelves. The teacher said, “select a topic that’s close to you.” My essay was entitled “The Colored Worker in the United States,” the mistake was using the word “worker” too liberally. The principal called in Daddy Goodness and told him to stop mingling with the Jews at his job and everything would be all right. Daddy didn’t bother to tell him that his co-workers were all colored. And the Jews on our block won’t speak to us.

Related Characters: Ernestine Crump (speaker), Lily, Godfrey Crump
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

Well hell Godfrey I ain’t said nothing about nothing. I can’t help it if that child got eyes and ears, and a mind that ain’t limited to a few pages in the bible.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Godfrey Crump, Ernestine Crump
Page Number: 25
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:
Act 2, Scene 1 Quotes

Wait! I…I still got all of these questions I wanted to ask Sweet Father. My pockets are stuffed full of paper. (The banquet table is removed leaving Godfrey sitting alone. Godfrey pulls handfuls of paper from his pocket. Ermina exits.) But, he promised and now I got to wait another year before I get the answers. Oh No! If he is the God he proclaims to be I need his answers now, I need him to help me move on.

Related Characters: Godfrey Crump (speaker), Father Divine
Related Symbols: The Notepad
Page Number: 40-1
Explanation and Analysis:
Act 2, Scene 3 Quotes

GERTE. So where are the warriors in your revolution now? Why don’t they help us? How are we to lead our lives if we can’t go out for a … a picture show on a Saturday night.

LILY. Welcome to our world, […]. You ain’t supposed to period! Stop! Thought you knew about all these things being from Germany and all.

Related Characters: Gerte (speaker), Lily (speaker), Godfrey Crump
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

You see Ernestine that’s your America. Negro sitting on his couch with blood dripping down his face. White woman unscathed and the enemy not more than five years back. You can’t bring order to this world. You can’t put up curtains and pot plants and have things change. You really thought you could marry a white woman and enter the kingdom of heaven, didn’t ya?

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Ernestine Crump, Godfrey Crump, Gerte, Father Divine
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:

GODFREY. I’ll make a note to speak to her later.

GERTE. STOP! You’ve assembled lists that run miles and miles. There’s an entire closet crowded with paper and scribbles of things you need to know, things you want to do, questions that must be answered. It would make three lifetimes to get through all of it.

[…]

GERTE. If you’d pay attention to the world around you, you wouldn’t have so many questions to ask.

Related Characters: Gerte (speaker), Godfrey Crump, Lily, Father Divine
Related Symbols: The Notepad
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
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Godfrey Crump Character Timeline in Crumbs from the Table of Joy

The timeline below shows where the character Godfrey 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
...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 mother’s death laid her... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
...father, whose main concern is whether or not Father Divine has written back to him. Godfrey has been writing to Father Divine, the leader of the Peace Mission Movement. Godfrey turned... (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 it’s Sunday and that Father Divine wouldn’t approve,... (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 to him. But Ermina is more interested... (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 overjoyed, eagerly opening the envelope but then passing it to Ernestine, who is better... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
In his letter, Father Divine decides to give Godfrey and his daughters new names. Henceforth, Godfrey will no longer be Godfrey Crump, but Godfrey... (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... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 2
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Godfrey enters the room and is shocked to see Lily, but she takes his surprise in... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
To break the awkward silence that has filled the apartment, Godfrey tells Lily that they tried to find her when they moved to Brooklyn. They knew... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Godfrey notices that Ernestine is staring at Lily, so he tells her to stop. But Lily... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Lily makes a comment about how hungry she is, and though she half-heartedly tells Godfrey and Ernestine not to go to any trouble on her behalf, she quickly accepts an... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Lily asks Godfrey to take her bags in from the hall. He’s surprised she even brought bags in... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Lily tries to get Godfrey to rehash memories of old times they spent together in various bars, but he refuses... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
Godfrey doesn’t like Lily talking about communism in front of the girls, but Lily tells him... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Godfrey begrudgingly goes into the hall to get Lily’s bags while Lily talks to Ernestine and... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...for school entitled “The Colored Worker in the United States.” Her principal ends up summoning Godfrey and telling him not to talk to his Jewish coworkers, implying that he has been... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
In reality, all of Godfrey’s coworkers are Black, and none of the Jewish people on his block even talk to... (full context)
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Godfrey insists that Ernestine will have to go back to school and apologize for writing about... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...about how handsome the Cuban man was, and Ernestine feels overjoyed and thrilled—until, that is, Godfrey appears in the room and angrily tells his daughters to go into the hall. (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Godfrey reprimands Lily for drinking, but she laughs him off and starts talking about the drinking... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Godfrey and Lily start arguing about the past, with Godfrey trying to guilt Lily for not... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
As their argument comes to a head, Lily asks if Godfrey wants her to apologize. If he does, she says, then that’s what she’ll do. She... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Godfrey explains that before he devoted himself to Father Divine, all he could do was drink... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 5
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Godfrey disappears for days on end. He rides the subway while he’s away, hardly looking up... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 6
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
Back at the apartment, Godfrey timidly enters the living room and looks around. His daughters are hesitant to embrace him,... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...living room preparing to leave for the Holy Communion Banquet at the Peace Mission, where Godfrey will finally get to ask Father Divine his questions. Dressed all in white, Ernestine addresses... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Godfrey and Gerte are at the Peace Mission preparing for the banquet. Godfrey is busy trying... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
...asks why, if Father Divine is God, he can’t just fly to the banquet. But Godfrey ignores her, simply saying that Father Divine will certainly find a way to get there.... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 2
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
...tries to fill the silence by turning on the radio, but Ernestine reminds her that Godfrey doesn’t like music in the apartment on Sundays, so she shuts it off. Just then,... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
...admiringly about jazz, Gerte goes over to the radio and turns it off, noting that Godfrey doesn’t like it when they play such music in the apartment. Lily, for her part,... (full context)
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...claims that she simply says nothing because she doesn’t want to get in trouble with Godfrey for filling Ernestine’s head with new ideas. When Gerte mentions that she came across a... (full context)
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...the household. This leads to a broader argument, in which Lily insults Gerte’s marriage to Godfrey by asking what it’s like to be with a man who refuses to touch her.... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Ernestine is in the living room one day when Godfrey and Gerte burst in. Godfrey is bleeding from the head, and Gerte’s dress is covered... (full context)
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
In the commotion, Godfrey knocks over Ernestine’s sewing mannequin and angrily asks why it’s there. Meanwhile, Gerte wishes Godfrey... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Ernestine erupts into anger, saying that she hates Gerte and that she’s to blame. Godfrey tells her not to say such things, but Lily defends her niece, suggesting that Father... (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
Godfrey responds by sarcastically apologizing that he can’t meet Lily’s high standards, suggesting that maybe she... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
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Godfrey criticizes Lily for filling his daughters’ heads with bad ideas. In response, Lily says she’s... (full context)
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
...nothing against Lily, she thinks it’s unfair that Lily is always standing between her and Godfrey. She says that Godfrey has to make a choice, and when he uncomfortably points out... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
Faith, Devotion, and Hope Theme Icon
Grief, Loss, and Moving On Theme Icon
...have been scattered about the living room. As she does so, she reads the questions Godfrey wrote down for Father Divine, which largely implore Father Divine to give him guidance—he came... (full context)
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...life to happen to her. Similarly, she shouldn’t spend her time picking up her father’s mess—Godfrey should do that himself. (full context)
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Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Ernestine asks Lily to pour her a glass of whiskey, and though Lily notes that Godfrey wouldn’t approve, Ernestine says that her father isn’t there to stop her. As they drink,... (full context)
Epilogue
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
...her graduation dress 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... (full context)
Racism and Opportunity Theme Icon
Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness Theme Icon
Godfrey doesn’t understand why Ernestine doesn’t want the job at the bakery. When she tells him... (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... (full context)