How important are specifics?

I think it’s fair to generalize and say that for the most part, people like to know specifics of a situation. Details are used to enhance a narrative and immerse the reader in the story. Specifics in literature allow for plot to move forward and led us to all too familiar, inevitable “have you read quiz?” in English classes throughout middle/high school. Teachers can create questions that ask students to recall details and specifics to show that they are doing the assigned reading for homework and are comprehending the work.

But if we really think about it, how important are specifics? And what does their inclusion/exclusion mean for the bigger picture?

After class yesterday, I went up to Beth and said, “Okay, I’ve read A Mercy twice and I still don’t understand… who got Sorrow pregnant the second time, with the child who survived?”

And Beth replied, “I don’t know. I could’ve forgotten, or maybe it’s not stated. Do you need to know?”

Technically, no. I don’t need to know because that father presence isn’t a factor in the baby’s survival. Sorrow, now Complete (which is one of my favorite parts of the novel). The lack of the knowledge of the father calls the reader’s attention of just how common this was. Florens’ father is also never named. This culture of rape and how that perpetuates in the creation of children who will also be forced into a life of slavery made the idea of a nuclear family literally impossible for enslaved people at the time. Not knowing who one’s parents are really messes with one’s concept of their origins. Because origins are so important to this course- can anyone connect this to anything else we’ve read/seen/listened to in class?

I thought that this can relate to the CDOs that we’ve talked about, mainly when we were reading The Big Short and listening to the podcast about toxic assets. Most people do not know exactly what’s “in” a CDO, but that doesn’t mean that they were any less harmful to the economy. Not knowing who impregnated Sorrow does not mean that the recurrence of men being able to do what they wanted with women and then being able to walk away is not important and wrong.

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