An Analysis on the Meaning of a Crisis in Relation to the Turner House

 cri·sis
/ˈkrīsis/
noun
noun: crisis; plural noun: crises
a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger.
“the current economic crisis”
synonyms: emergency, disaster, catastrophe, calamity; More
a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.
“a crisis point of history”
synonyms: critical point, turning point, crossroads, watershed, head, moment of truth, zero hour, point of no return, Rubicon, doomsday; More
the turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.

As I write this post during the tumultuous time period that is finals week, my mind continues to return to our in-class discussion of the meaning of a crisis and its importance to the Housing Crisis. The definition of crisis that I found most useful to my current thought process is as follows: “A time when a difficult or important decision must be made.” This is relevant to my current situation since due to poor time management, I have found myself catching up on these blog posts wondering where all the time went. At first I underwent a small crisis at the possibility that I wouldn’t be capable of completing the work on time. However, after the feeling of personal disaster had passed, I began to analyze the different ways that the word crisis is relevant to our ongoing discussion of the Housing Crisis.

The first definition emphasizes an ongoing time period that is characterized by intense difficulty, trouble or danger. While the second definition emphasizes a specific, “crisis point of history.” Both of these definitions are relevant to understanding the “Housing Crisis” theme in accordance to the texts that we have read throughout the semester. The novel The Turner House stood out to me the strongest  when I thought of the word crisis. The duel definition of the world fit perfectly with the novel’s ability to address the many issues that are plaguing the city of Detroit, while still establishing an emotional connection between the reader and the Turner family.

Angela Flournoy’s description of the declining city of Detroit is artfully woven into the Turner family story line, occasionally rearing its head to compliment the personal lives of the characters which on several occasions are experiencing their own relative crises. For instance, the Turner house itself becomes a physical representation of the gradual decline of Detroit. During the childhood’s of the first six Turner children, the house was full of active children and young adults, however as each family member grew older the lifeblood of the house slowly declined. In the present day, the Turner house is only an uninhabited  shell that represents the declining prosperity of the Detroit housing system.

Cha-Cha who is the eldest son of the Turner family is perpetually striving to become the patriarchal head of the family throughout the novel. It is clear that he perceives his father, Francis as an incompetent drunk who put his own vices before the well-being of the family. The exact moment that Cha-Cha began to believe this is uncertain, however, I would argue that the  turning point in their relationship can be traced back to when Francis accidentally pissed on Cha-Cha.

His memories of the event were not swayed by reason. They were the culmination of the wrong kind of day, and too many realizations about the kind of life Cha-Cha felt destined to live. His father had pissed on his forehead when he should have been at home protecting his family, and this seemed a special, premeditated disrespect.

For Cha-Cha this event was the point of no return, an event that would mold not only the way he viewed his father, but the way he perceived the rest of the world. I believe that this event became a driving factor for Cha-Cha’s need to have control over the affairs of the family including taking care of his mother, Viola when she couldn’t afford to live in the big house anymore. I think it is also relevant to include Cha-Cha’s relationship with the haint, which first terrorize him as a child in the big room and caused him to veer his truck off the road nearly fifty years later. Throughout the novel, the haint is the only “thing” that Cha-Cha is unable to control.

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