Lovecraft Country: What Ruby’s Hillary Davenport Transformation Means


Ruby takes to her position with ease. She is comfortable in it, because she knows she deserves it. Even if she knows Hillary didn’t get it for that reason. Whiteness serves her in that body, so she forgives the harm it perpetuates. Hillary does not treat Tamara, the only other Black employee at Marshall Fields, with a modicum of kindness. And she doesn’t use her newfound power to make life easier for Tamara, or the next Black girl.

But being Hillary Davenport also gives Ruby a peak behind the curtain. When she’s kiki-ing with the white girls at work about Tamara, they make casual disparaging comments about all Black folks. Ruby is fine with the idea of making fun of Tamara, who she views as someone undeserving of her position (she only has a 7th grade education, after all) but is triggered when that same language is used to make blanket anti-Black statements. It’s maybe the first time Ruby fully realizes that to white folks, there are no “good ones.”

Those same women then express a desire to go to the southside, like an urban “safari” where they can gawk at coloreds in their natural habitat. After a particularly nasty blow up at Tamara, Hillary volunteers her to bring all of them, including their male boss Paul, to the southside. Paul eventually attempts to assault Tamara, which Ruby witnesses. Ruby is disillusioned, and she is furious.

White folks are able to occupy Black spaces in the Southside and participate in Black culture —food and music, particularly— then shrug it off when it no longer serves them. They can vacation to the Black part of town, but Black folks can’t do the same in theirs. They can trespass, and  transgress against Black bodies with no repercussion. Ruby allows the Hillary shell to slide off of her, perhaps fed up with the double alienation of being a white person in a Black space and a Black person in a White body.

The first time Ruby emerges from her white body, she is literally cut out of it by William. She’s both the newborn and the mutilated uterus that housed it, ripped, and ripped from. It should be noted here that William, who has likely been Christina for at least the time Ruby has known him, does not do this delicately. While the opposite is true about the shoggoth Christina delivers in Ardham, which she gently pulled from the cow’s womb.

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