The Invention of Wings

A free black man living in Charleston, based on a real historical figure. Denmark won his freedom by winning the lottery, and uses his autonomy to inspire other slaves to rebel against the white masters. Charlotte falls in love with Denmark and has a baby with him. Denmark never meets his daughter, Sky, as he is put to death for the planned slave revolt before Charlotte and Sky return to Charleston.

Denmark Vesey Quotes in The Invention of Wings

The The Invention of Wings quotes below are all either spoken by Denmark Vesey or refer to Denmark Vesey. 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:
Friendship Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of The Invention of Wings published in 2015.
Part 4 Quotes

"The Lord has spoken to me," he cried out. "He said, set my people free. When your name is written in the Book, you’re one of us and you’re one of God’s, and we'll take our freedom when God says, Let not your heart be troubled. Neither let it be afraid. You believe in God, believe also in me…” …My name wasn’t in the book, just the men’s, but I would’ve put it in there if I could. I would’ve written it in blood.

Related Characters: Hetty Handful Grimké (speaker), Denmark Vesey (speaker)
Page Number: 224-225
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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The edict from the judges said we couldn't cry, or say his name, or do anything to mark him, but I took a little piece of red thread from my neck pouch and tied it round one of the twigs on a low, dipping branch to mark the spot. Then I cried my tears and said his name.

Related Characters: Hetty Handful Grimké (speaker), Denmark Vesey
Related Symbols: Red Thread
Page Number: 261
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Denmark Vesey Character Timeline in The Invention of Wings

The timeline below shows where the character Denmark Vesey appears in The Invention of Wings. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: February 1811 – December 1812
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
...at a ball, and Charlotte admits that she has a sweetheart too. His name is Denmark Vesey and he is a Free Black man, having won the lottery and purchased himself... (full context)
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
...Charlotte hurriedly finishes the shopping and takes Handful to 20 Bull street, the house where Denmark Vesey lives. Handful sees a woman through the window and is surprised to find out... (full context)
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
Denmark Vesey comes out of his house and Charlotte introduces Handful. For the next year, Charlotte... (full context)
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
...so that the lady could pass on the narrow path. Handful finds this ordinary, but Denmark rushed down the street, grabbed Handful’s arm and shamed her for stepping aside and groveling... (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
...that day, Charlotte takes off to town looking happy and clean for her visit to Denmark. Handful tries to make sure that her mother’s work badge and pouch of spirit tree... (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
...Charlotte’s one-legged punishment and Handful’s whip lash for learning to read. The last square is Denmark Vesey standing proudly next to the number 1884, something that means little to Handful. Handful... (full context)
Part 3: October 1818 – November 1820
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
...January, Handful hears about a new African church in Charleston meant just for black people. Denmark Vesey attends and contributes many of the messages. Handful hates to think of Denmark again,... (full context)
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
Handful. At a meeting of the African Church, Denmark Vesey speaks to a congregation of 200 slaves. Handful has been attending for four months... (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
As the congregation sings, the City Guard bursts in and starts surrounding the people. Denmark tries to throw them out, but a guard just hits Denmark in the face with... (full context)
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
At the Work House, Handful and 11 other slaves are led past the Treadmill. Denmark is there, having refused to pay the fine for himself as long as there were... (full context)
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
...for the first time. She walks to 20 Bull street to see what happened to Denmark after the Work House. Memories of the Work House come rushing back, as the sight... (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
At Denmark’s house, Handful asks Denmark’s wife, Susan, if Denmark is home. Denmark comes out and invites... (full context)
Friendship Theme Icon
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
...errand for her. Once she gets to 20 Bull Street, Handful sneaks into a meeting Denmark is having with his “lieutenants.” The other men do not trust Handful, but Denmark calls... (full context)
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
Denmark tells his lieutenants to step outside and tells Handful the real story of what happened... (full context)
Part 4: September 1821 – July 1822
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Handful. Handful sneaks to Denmark’s house more than ever now that Tomfry is no longer there to keep the slaves... (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
Handful gives Denmark a jar of sorghum she stole from the kitchen and goes to help Susan making... (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Handful asks Denmark what would happen if a white person found a list of names. Denmark says that... (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Handful gets busy making a quilt for Denmark to hide his lists, covering the front with red and black triangles for blackbirds flying.... (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
Handful. At Denmark’s house in April, Denmark tells his lieutenants that there are 6,000 names in his lists... (full context)
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
As Denmark explains the preparations of arms, Handful fiddles with a feather in her pocket and remembers... (full context)
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
That night, Handful reflects on Denmark’s praise when she gave him the bullet molds. She can’t sleep and wishes that Goodis... (full context)
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
Handful. Handful waits two days after the failed rebellion for safety, then goes to Denmark’s house. He has not been arrested, and even the quilt with the lists is untouched,... (full context)
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
Four days later, Denmark is also arrested. Legends about him fly thick, but Handful realizes that half of what... (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
On July 2nd, Handful follows Denmark from the Work House as he is taken to his place of execution. Denmark and... (full context)
Part 5: November 1826 – November 1829
Equality and Intersectionality Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
...Handful introduces the slave girl as her sister, knowing she must be Charlotte’s daughter by Denmark Vesey. (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
...the order of all the squares correctly. Handful dreads telling Charlotte what has happened to Denmark Vesey while she was gone. Charlotte also looks worse for the wear from her time... (full context)
Voice and Silence Theme Icon
The Evils of Slavery and the Necessity of Resistance Theme Icon
...keep at the Grimké house. Charlotte insists that Sky is as smart as her daddy, Denmark, though Charlotte doesn’t tell Sky who her father is for fear that Sky will chatter... (full context)
Belonging and Religion Theme Icon
...write Sky a pass, and she takes Sky by the house that used to be Denmark’s. Handful tells Sky that her daddy was brave with a big heart and lived to... (full context)