Walk Through Darkness

Written by David Anthony Durham
Review by Alice Logsdon

Walk Through Darkness is a look at two forms of human torment told from the viewpoints of William, a young mulatto born into the degradation of slavery, and Morrison, an aging Scotsman who is free physically but psychologically bound by his own personal demons.

The story begins when William escapes from the planter to whom he has been leased by his owner. William is in pursuit of two things: freedom and his love, Dover. Pregnant with his child, Dover has gone to Philadelphia, and presumably freedom, with her own sympathetic mistress. During his days on the run, William’s thoughts reveal much about his past and his dreams for the future. Morrison enters the narrative at this point, though his motives are mysterious. He has spent several years on the edges of civilization, in more ways than one, but a letter from someone in his past has brought him back from his personal exile. He begins to search for William as just another of the many men searching for the escaped slave. Later, it becomes evident that he is much more than that.

This is, at heart, the story of good triumphing over evil. It is a thoughtful and penetrating look at the way American society was divided by the institution of slavery in the years leading up to the Civil War. There is no simplistic formula that equates good or evil with racial background or geographic origin. Durham delves into the complex motivations and faces of humanity and in doing so, exposes the links through which we can connect.