Faith Griffin, Aviana Freece, Bailey Foster, Mackenzie Gillen, Piper Cluff
Throughout this course, we have been given the opportunity to read and interpret texts that range from different time periods, each of which show a common theme of the housing crisis. Specifically, being expelled from one’s home has been a pattern in each book. Some of the texts include, King Lear, The Big Short, and A Mercy along with a few others. In each of these books, characters have had the ability to read and interpret texts but in the end were harmed by those who acted in bad faith. To begin, in King Lear, Lear is looking to divide his land for his daughters. He asks them to show how much they love him and that will determine his decision on who gets land. Two of the daughters acted in bad faith and lied to Lear about how much they love him. His other daughter Cordelia was honest about how much she loved him. He misinterpreted her response as her not loving him as much as the other daughters. With the two daughters acting in bad faith, they are rewarded with the land that was originally Cordelia’s, and in the end had Lear expelled from the land he gifted. Even though Lear can physically read, he interpreted and read the daughter’s responses wrong which ultimately led to his expulsion. To continue, in The Big Short, many people were given contracts to sign from banks and CEOS for mortgages. Although these citizens can read, they did not believe that these big corporations would act in bad faith and provide them with contracts with terms they did not understand. This is demonstrated on page 367, “We took them through our trade but I’m pretty sure they didn’t understand it.” These CEOs and banks knew they were acting in bad faith but had no issue in doing so which in the end resulted in an abundance of people being expelled from their homes. The latest text we read in class was A Mercy which led us through a story of an enslaved girl named Florens. We saw many patterns throughout her time in the book of being expelled by those she trusted.
It is known that Florens can physically read in the book A Mercy, but often misinterprets and misreads social situations throughout the story which results in her expulsion by those she loves the most. During the time period the story takes place, very few enslaved people had the physical ability to read, but the Reverend Father teaches Florens, her mother and brother how to read and write even though he is not allowed to do so. Florens mentions this when she says, “The Reverend Father tells us that. Once every seven days we learn to read and write” (pg 6). This quote shows that Florens can physically read, even better than her mother, yet she is unable to read situations. One example of this is shown within the first few pages of the book. Chapter 1 begins in Florens’ point of view of a significant moment in her life. At a young age, Florens recalls a situation where Jacob is given the option of choosing any enslaved person on D’Ortega’s farm. He first points to Florens’ mother but then her mother says, “Take the girl, she says, my daughter, she says” (pg 8). This is the first experience in Florens’ life where she has been expelled by someone. Throughout Florens’ life, we see that she believes her mother gave her away as she thinks she did not care for her. She is unable to read the real reason as to why her Mother offered Florens. In reality, a minha mãe was protecting Florens from the abuse she once experienced in her life.
Another person who was important and close to Florens that ended up expelling her in the end was the Blacksmith. When Florens was living on Jacob’s land, we come to find out that she and the Blacksmith have a romantic relationship. She speaks of him throughout the book and shares how much he really means to her. When her Mistress Rebekka falls ill, she was sent to find the Blacksmith to gain his help. At her arrival, she was entrusted by the Blacksmith to watch a young boy, named Malaik, that was with him at the time. She finds him as competition for the Blacksmith’s attention and love. Florens ends up having an altercation with Malaik where she breaks his arm; the Blacksmith returns home and is appalled by Florens’ actions. He reacts by saying, “Own yourself, woman, and leave us be. You could have killed this child” (page 166). As shown Florens is once again expelled by someone that she trusted and even loved. Florens returns home to Jacob’s new estate and then begins to write her story on the walls in hopes that the Blacksmith will one day read it. While Florens is writing she states, “These words cover the floor… I am holding light in one hand and carving letters with the other. My arms ache but I have to tell you this”(pg 188). This whole situation surrounding the Blacksmith, being expelled again, and writing on the walls reinforces the concept that Florens can read and write, but cannot read social situations which often leads to her expulsion.
The book A Mercy is one example of text that shifted our understanding and viewpoint of the 2008 housing crisis. We can see that a story written in a setting from hundreds of years ago with fictional characters relates back to the housing crisis of 2008. Florens represent those who were affected by the housing crisis. Even though Florens had the physical ability to read and interpret text, she was unable to read and understand specific situations that ultimately ended in her being expelled more than once, just like those who were expelled by the 2008 housing crisis. During that time period, many people signed contracts and mortgages not knowing what lies in the fine print. These people were able to physically read but did not understand and interpret how people would offer contracts to them in bad faith, so they did not understand the severity of the situation. One article we read in class shows a situation where a, “Baltimore resident says he missed in the fine print was that by accepting the cash, he was granting the company, MV Realty of Maryland, LLC, the long-term exclusive right to list his modest Park Heights row home. If he sells with someone else, he stands to owe the company thousands of dollars.” This quote shows how one of many people who were unfortunately reeled into contracts that they could never understand on their own; the consequences of this were pricey. We can see that oftentimes, we put our trust and good faith in people, just like Florens did, but may end up being left cleaning up the messes by those who worked in bad faith. This course has taught us that as college students, we have to be careful and read the fine prints. Many times, we are given assignments, tests and rubrics that we may skim over in the syllabus, but in the end if we don’t read these closely, we may be put in a situation where we receive a bad grade.