Understanding the Root and Understanding Each Other

Given the recent reactions to the spread of Coronavirus in the state, the schools, and sports, it has been increasingly hard to concentrate on one specific thing, unless that thing is Coronavirus. To have to swap so much of my routine lifestyle for a completely new way of life is going to be difficult. Yet, even with such difficulties, this class has allowed me to think through a lot. Today’s issues and the 2008 market crash are more connected than a person may originally think! 

The Coronavirus, like the stock market crash of 2008, felt like a rumor until it’s affects reached me and my friends. Although the virus came up sporadically on the news, it seemed too far out of reach to impact my own life. I admit that I was foolish to assume the virus’s power. In Michael Lewis’s The Big Short, Lewis conveys how unaware people were of the stock market crash and its impacts on the streets of New York City. Lewis explains, “The monster was exploding. Yet on the streets of Manhattan there was no sign anything important had just happened. The force that would affect their lives was hidden from their view” (251). Just like the market crash, the virus was out of my view until recently. Now that its impact is in full swing, it is all I can think about.  

While The Big Short does a spectacular job of explaining the 2008 Housing Crisis and the people directly involved with it, Angela Flournoy’s The Turner House focuses on the small scale repercussions of the housing crisis through telling the story of a specific family and their house in Detroit. Flournoy reminds her readers that the market crash was a devastating moment in history; however, the market crash was not the only difficult thing that individuals had to work through at the time. Just as I have to work through school in the wake of the Coronavirus, many of the characters in The Turner House dealt with smaller issues among the housing crisis.  

In the beginning of The Turner House, readers are introduced to the character Cha-Cha when he wakes up in the hospital after a car accident. Cha-Cha believes that the accident was a result of his haint, or ghost, coming back to haunt him. Flournoy explains, “His old haint had found him and almost destroyed him in a matter of seconds” (6). On top of grappling with the financial worth of his Mom’s house on Yarrow Street, Cha-Cha also deals with his own health issues, relationship problems, and his haint. The haint, like the stock market for characters in The Big Short, or the Coronavirus for many students across the nation recently, is what comprises all of Cha-Cha’s thoughts and blocks his inability to think clearly. The Turner House conveys how the housing crash impacted normal people; however, it further emphasizes that more often than not, the crash was not a person’s sole obstacle at the time. 

Similar to Cha-Cha, Flournoy concentrates on the character Lelah and the struggles she encounters both related to and apart from the housing crisis. Overtime, readers learn that Lelah can’t pay rent and gets evicted from her apartment. Flournoy describes Lelah’s experience of eviction writing, “She surveyed the room. What to take, what to take, what to take? It all looked like junk now” (15). The expulsion that Lelah faces early in The Turner House could very well be a consequence of the fraudulent actions from people in bank firms that we learned about in The Big Short. On top of being evicted from her apartment, Lelah also deals with a gambling addiction. Flournoy depicts Lelah’s addiction writing, “The chips looked like candy. Pastel, melt-away things that didn’t make sense to save. The feel of them, the click and the dry slide of them in her pal, was gratifying” (43). As the novel progresses, Lelah attempts to push through her addiction in order to prove herself among her siblings, daughter, and herself. Flournoy sheds light on the fact that the housing crisis of 2008 was not the only obstacle that people had to work through at the time through her depiction of characters like Cha-Cha and Lelah. 

In Michael Lewis’s The Big Short, Lewis does include some in depth descriptions of the lives of people directly involved with the housing crash. For instance, as readers we discover that Michael Burry’s son has asperger’s syndrome. As Burry learns about aspergers, he also realizes that he may have the syndrome too. By providing some biographical information about the people involved in The Big Short, Lewis reminds his audience that people involved in shorting the market also had other hardships to deal with. Overall however, The Big Short focuses more on the housing crisis itself. The people tend to come second to the explanation of the corruption among the stocks and the market crash. On the flip side, Flournoy’s The Turner House focuses more on the characters rather than the housing crash. Although Flournoy does not provide readers with a detailed account of how the housing market crashed, Flournoy’s focus on characters allows readers to see how the crash directly impacted people’s already busy lives. The two books provide incredibly important insight. 

Just as the housing market crash of 2008 created anxiety and extreme financial troubles across the nation, the coronavirus has generated great concern across the country as well. It is important to both try and understand the root of the virus, just as The Big Short with the crash did by analyzing stocks and banks, and to understand how the virus will directly affect people who already have busy lives going on, just as Flournoy’s The Turner House does with Cha-Cha and Lelah. In times of anxiety and uncertainty it is important to continue to push ourselves to be the best people we can be by forming greater understandings of the situations around us and by remembering that each individual has a plate of previous stressors to continue dealing with.

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