The Human Flaw: The Big Short/ The Turner House

When starting the book The Turner House by Angela Flournoy, I did not know where the story was going to go, or how it was going to connect to The Big Short by Michael Lewis. In fact, when life was starting to connect to The Big Short, in more ways than just in literature, that was when my understanding deepened. My original “understanding” came from making text to text connections, which then enabled me to seek out and dive into a  text to world connections with The Big Short and the world. In ways such as explaining a DBQ question to 8th-grade students about why African Americans were not allowed to get mortgages in certain parts of towns. Supporting the students with the background knowledge of what a mortgage was, and conceptual knowledge of the process on how to get one.  Going back to the text to text connections between The Big Short and The Turner House I can see some resemblance; similar ideas in the means of addiction, housing crisis,  but the Turner house is putting the characters into perspective, giving them a true story, giving them emotion, and a long line of the family.  How could a “real person”, or “real family” be similar to the Big Short? 

The Big Short was the big perspective looking down on millions of little houses all sold together. The Turner House is the smaller perspective looking up, it starts with the families, and the one home that the bankers would take for granted, and it shows the characters have troubles, short selling the house, gather money to pay for the house, and then all of the internal struggles that ALL humans have the opportunity to face. Addiction. Becoming attached to something that one cannot go without it, one becomes dependent on an activity, drug, or food as mentioned in Merriam Webster’s definition.  Mentioning explicitly here activity.  For the Bankers on Wall Street, they could gather, “ 100 different triple- B rated bond… they persuaded the rating agencies that they weren’t as they might appear…They were a diversified portfolio of assets”(73, Lewis) Meaning these bankers were taking the lowest of the low bonds the bonds that would most likely never get paid off, mortgages like the Turner House, and combining them all to seem like a triple-A bond which is the highest and securest place to store money and the hardest mortgage to get.  Turning nothing into something is generally fraud and these bankers enjoyed a well, high-paying paycheck, the risk was high from turning nothing to something, but the men on Wall street got paid very well. They started wrapping and rolling as many housing mortgages as they could find and labeling them higher and higher quality. One could say it was an addiction. The draw of the money, the ease, the appeal. It was all there.

This is where the men of The Big Short connect with The Turner House, zeroing in on Lelah. Mother of Brianne, who is the mother of Bobbie. Lelah is the youngest of the Turner family, and she has a serious gambling addiction.  “She was just a mind and a pair of hands calculating, pushing chips out, pulling some back…” (49, Flournoy) This part really emphasizes how drawn back and taken away the character is from herself as if the addiction takes control when she is there.  Talking about how she was just her mind, and her hands moving the chips as if she did it without any thought. “ It wasn’t to feel alive, but it also wasn’t to feel numb. It was about knowing what to do intuitively, and thinking about one thing only, the possibility of winning…” (49, Flournoy) Lelah was gambling not to feel anything, but to win. The men on Wall Street did not care about how they felt, they wanted to win big as well. “Morgan Stanley’s elite bond traders did not spend a lot of time worrying about this (208, Lewis).  The meaning of “This” is the subprime mortgages that the folks on Wall Street were combining and selling. They did not worry, they did not process, it was their addiction. I guess one could say it is our Human flaw, the will to win at whatever it takes. The increase of debt among the nation, hurting our own families, the will to win is a game, is an addiction. Taking a step back, and to not blame anyone who is addicted to anything. Lelah is a great example it first starts off as a choice, but then it becomes a habit that is too strong to break. In her case, maybe we could empathize why she would gamble to try to earn money for the house, and how the book says she was strict on counting her money. The Turner House humanizes some situations from The Big Short

It can become easy to blame the greedy men on Wall Street, but what about the fact that all humans have this capability to want more. It is a good lesson to learn to be quick not to judge one another and learning how much we do all have in common. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.