Jacob Have I Loved

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Jacob Have I Loved
Jacob Have I Loved book cover
Author Katherine Paterson
Illustrator Rylea Brown,Dylan Derozan
Country United States
Language English
Genre Realistic Fiction
Publisher Crowell
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 263
ISBN 0-380-56499-8
OCLC 7868696
LC Class PZ7.P273 Jac 1980

Jacob Have I Loved is a novel by Katherine Paterson that won the 1981 Newbery Medal. The title refers to the sibling rivalry between Jacob and Esau in the Jewish and Christian Bible, and comes directly from Malachi 1:2,3: "Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated."

The novel follows the story of the Bradshaws, a family who depends on the father, Truitt Bradshaw, and his crabbing/fishing business on his boat, the Portia Sue. Truitt's two daughters, Sara Louise and Caroline, are twins, and Caroline has always been the favorite. She is prettier and more talented, and better at receiving more attention not only from their parents but also from others in the community.

The book traces Louise's attempts to free herself from Caroline's shadow, even as she grows into adulthood.


This story takes place during the early 1940s on the small, fictional island of Rass in the Chesapeake Bay.

Plot summary[edit]

This story starts as a young girl named Sara Louise "Wheeze" Bradshaw who lives on Rass Island in Maryland. Sara Louise struggles to get away from her sister's shadow. Her sister, Caroline, is prettier and more talented and gets all the attention not only from her family, but from the community as well. In the book, Sara Louise tries not to be around her sister, she tends to be around her friend, McCall "Call" Purnell. Call and Sara Louise are often around each other, crabbing, and one day she convinces Call to come up with her to an old house and find a man there, Hiram "The Captain" Wallace.

Call and Louise then meet the Captain, a man who is believed to have lived on the island, but left the island in humiliation. After many adventures, twists in the road, and confusion, Caroline moves to New York to go to college. Soon after, Sara Louise breaks down in front of her mother, and her mother encourages her to leave the island and go to college. After a few months of Caroline living in New York, Call drops in unexpectedly and proposes. Caroline and Call get married, much to Sara Louise's dismay.

Trudy Braxton, the Captain, Sara Louise's grandmother, and Truitt Bradshaw die later on.

After finishing college, Louise goes to work in a small town as a nurse and midwife. She eventually marries a widowed father. On a snowy, winter night, she assisted in delivering twins. The mother had the first twin, a baby boy, safely. When the second one came out, it is a small and cold baby girl. Since she didn't have an incubator she rushes it to the fireside. She then realizes she forgot about the baby boy and asks about his whereabouts. He is in the basket, sleeping, where his grandmother put him. The twins remind her of her and Caroline. She tells the family to hold the baby boy, keep him warm, and love him. In her mind, she does not want the baby boy to end up like her, sleeping in a basket, alone and forgotten. She finally finds her joy, happiness, and herself in this small town.


  • Sara Louise Bradshaw

Louise helps her father through the crabbing season. She is a few minutes older than her twin sister, Caroline. As she grows older, she becomes frustrated with the unceasing attention Caroline receives and attempts to become more feminine — to no avail. After growing up in the oppressive situation of playing second-fiddle to her golden-haired sister, Sara Louise eventually leaves the island to move to a small town in the mountains that she has always wanted to see.

  • Caroline Bradshaw

Caroline is perfect. While she and Sara Louise are twins, Caroline is considered the "miracle child" because she was near death during birth. She is an amazing singer and pianist, and she is considered more intelligent and feminine than her sister. She tends to tease her sister, and she made up "Wheeze," a nickname Louise despises. She went to a music school when she graduated from high school on her home island, then goes to Juilliard in New York. She marries McCall Purnell, Louise's longtime friend.

  • McCall Purnell

McCall, also known as Call is a boy who works on the waters with Louise because his father died. He works with the Captain after he arrives. He ends up going to war, and when he comes back to Rass, he marries Caroline.

  • Hiram Wallace

Also known as "The Captain", is an old man that used to live on the island as a boy but moved away. He comes back and befriends Call and Louise. Louise falls in love with him.

  • Susan Bradshaw

Susan is the mother of Sara and Caroline. She is married to Truitt Bradshaw. She is an educated woman who used to be a teacher.

  • Grandmother Bradshaw

A very religious woman, Grandma can be strict and hard to get along with. She loves the Lord, but hates the water. She believes The Captain is a heathen.

  • Truitt Bradshaw

Truitt is the father of Louise and Caroline, and the husband of Susan Bradshaw. He is a waterman. He is also a war veteran.


Preceded by
A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal
Newbery Medal recipient
Succeeded by
A Visit to William Blake's Inn