Text to Text and Text to World Connections within The Turner House and The Big Short

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. Shortly after reading The Big Short, I started to see different themes from the book in my life and, that was when my understanding deepened on many levels. In the literacy education classes I have taken, we learned about text to text, text to self, and then text to world connections. How this works is you have one book or a text, and you or the students try to make connections to other texts, to yourself. Then to the outside world all bouncing back to the original text/book. My original understanding came from making text to text connections with The Big Short and then The Turner House, which then enabled me to seek out and dive into a  text to world connections with The Big Short. 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 a mortgage from my own learnings at college gave the students a different insight on this DBQ question.  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, and the 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? Then looking and using this new text to world connection and seeing how this topic did not only impact people in the past, but it is still being taught and influencing the students of today.

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. It can be defined as, “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.  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 would take the lowest of the low bonds the bonds that would never get paid off, and mortgages like the Turner Houses (text to text connection), and combining them all to seem like a triple-A bond. Triple-A bonds are the highest and securest place to store money and the hardest mortgages for costumers of Wall Street to get.  “Turning nothing into something” often looks like fraud and these bankers enjoyed a well, high-paying paycheck, the risk was high, but who was the risk actually high for? 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(text to text), 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) That quote really emphasizes how drawn back and taken away the character is from herself as if the addiction itself had moved in and taken control.  When Lelah was pushing the chips, and manipulating them to her will, or the addictions will she also was not feeling anything. “ 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. Lelah had an addiction that was so strong, regardless of her family, she wanted to hit the jackpot, to win big. Similarly, men on Wall Street did not care about how they felt, they wanted to win big as well, bring home a big paycheck. “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 companies on Wall Street were combining and selling. They did not worry, they did not process, it was their addiction. They were only concerned about winning, and not they other feelings. 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 placing no blame on anyone who has this disease of addiction. Lelah is a great example it first starts off as a choice, but then it becomes a habit that is too strong to break. Many of my peers had mentioned that the book The Turner House had made The Big Short much easier to grapple with the understandings of addiction. We became able to 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 for fear to not go broke. The Turner House humanizes some situations from The Big Short that were seeming “too big” to understand at first glance. 

It can become easy to blame the greedy men on Wall Street, but humans all have in common is the 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. These ideas and concepts are not uncommon. One last text to world example is, in the show Parenthood, there is a Grandfather(Zeke) who is trying to get rid of a not so great piece of property he bought and his daughter (Julia) is a lawyer and had a friend (Timm) who could “rearrange” the property for her grandfather and bundle it into other properties and get it off their hands, for the family could possibly lose their other house becuase extra piece of property. When I heard this going on in the show, I paused the show and said to my family, ” That is NOT okay, what he is doing is going to bundle this mortgage and try to hide this poor property with better ones. This is what we talk about and learn in my English class.” These situations will come up, everyone will be exposed to them, knowing how to respond, and when to say something is important. Sure enough, the Grandfather did not really like the deal, because he thought it was shady, and did not end up doing business with the man.

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