Scapegoats

scapegoat

/ˈskeɪpˌɡəʊt/

noun

1.

a person made to bear the blame for others

2.

(Old Testament) a goat used in the ritual of Yom Kippur (Leviticus16); it was symbolically laden with the sins of the Israelites and sentinto the wilderness to be destroyed

verb

3.

(transitive) to make a scapegoat of

In class, Prof. McCoy had us reread the line from Ruby which states, “their T-shirts, work shirts and dashikis soak up cold like fever,” pointing to the fact that this group was not only distinctly male- it also included members across all age groups (3). Morrison intentionally created a scenario where the violence being enacted is done in such a way as to label an innocent group guilty for events within the community, aka picking a scapegoat. The concept of a scapegoat can be seen in events like slavery, the holocaust, as well as many other genocides. I think this concept is enormously important, especially in the wake of the recent election, because history has held many groups responsible for the crime of existing (African-Americans, Jewish peoples, Mexicans, Muslims) and the result is generally dislocation and a terrible amount of bloodshed.

I am fascinated with on particular line, in Save-Marie, which is, “They think they are protecting their wives and children, when in fact they are maiming them. And when the maimed children ask for help, they look elsewhere for the cause. Born out of an old hatred, one that began when one kind of black man scorned another kind and that kind took the hatred to another level, their selfishness had trashed 200 years of suffering and triumph in a moment of such pomposity and error and callousness it froze the mind.” (306) The fact that a line about incredible hatred, and the violence done on one group of of people by another from the 1997, is still applicable 20 years later, is disgustingly profound. In Paradise we are introduced to a group of men, regardless of race, dismissing independent and free women as “sluts” and “witches”….tell me if this rings any bells about the state of our current socio-political society.

I found a pretty neat New York Times article to read, if anyone’s interested in finding out a little more about the implications of the  treatment of the women in Paradise:

http://www.nytimes.com/books/98/01/04/daily/morrison-book-review-art.html

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