Crumbs from the Table of Joy


Lynn Nottage

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Crumbs from the Table of Joy can help.

Crumbs from the Table of Joy Themes

Themes and Colors
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
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Crumbs from the Table of Joy, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Faith, Devotion, and Hope

Crumbs From the Table of Joy is a play that explores the impact a strong sense of faith can have on a person’s life. For Ernestine Crumb’s father, Godfrey, religious faith is what helps him feel centered and grounded in the face of sadness and uncertainty. In the aftermath of his wife’s death, he devotes himself to the Peace Mission Movement (a real-life movement led by a Black man named Father Divine

read analysis of Faith, Devotion, and Hope

Racism and Opportunity

Crumbs From the Table of Joy deals directly with the harsh reality of racism in the United States and the seemingly ever-present threat it poses to Black Americans. Set in the 1950s, the play spotlights the Crumb family’s attempt to escape the injustices of the Jim Crow (racial segregation) laws by traveling from the South to New York City. And yet, the play suggests that escaping racism isn’t as easy as simply leaving the South…

read analysis of Racism and Opportunity

Grief, Loss, and Moving On

Crumbs From the Table of Joy follows the Crump family’s mourning process, as each family member struggles to move on from the death of Ernestine and Ermina’s mother. The play presents the loss of a loved one as something capable of completely halting and even derailing a person’s life. In the first scene, for instance, Ernestine narrates what it was like for the family to lose her mother, explaining that the grief “wouldn’t leave…

read analysis of Grief, Loss, and Moving On
Get the entire Crumbs from the Table of Joy LitChart as a printable PDF.
Crumbs from the Table of Joy PDF

Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness

Crumbs From the Table of Joy examines how people respond to perspectives that differ from their own. Godfrey, for instance, has a strong negative reaction whenever he comes into contact with his late wife’s sister, Lily’s, progressive, communist worldview. His intense backlash is tied to the anti-communist sentiment that was especially strong in the United States during the 1950s (when the play is set). To be branded a communist came with grave social…

read analysis of Critical Thinking and Open-Mindedness