When we first started reading The Turner House I was immediately hit with a rather strong sense of déjà vu as I came across in the paratext the family tree that Angela Flournoy prefaced her novel with. I took note of the many branches extending from the Turner patriarch and matriarch and saw an immediate correlation to my own extended family. My dad is the seventh child out of fourteen and grew up in a household that was a little bit different from the typical household at the time comprised of two parents and three and a half children. I felt the desire to compose my own family tree for a visual representation of the similarities that I see my family to have with the Turner family. Viewing that family tree laid out with three generations of Turners really reminded me of my family and prompted me to give a closer look to the sibling relationships within my own family.
We watched this clip in my EDUC class this semester and because of the course content and current political attempts to defund certain after school programs, I thought this would be good to share.
As I traced Lelah’s story of eviction and homelessness throughout the five weeks of Spring 2008 in The Turner House, my mind kept returning to an excerpt we read in the beginning of class from Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. In it, Morrison attests that:
“Outdoors, we knew, was the real terror of life. The threat of being outsiders surface frequently in those days. Every possibility of excess was curtailed with it. […] There is a difference between being put out and being put outdoors. If you are put out, you go somewhere else; if you are put outdoors, there is no place to go.”
Morrison’s excerpt is particularly harrowing in light of the story of Lelah: who, after being evicted from her apartment, spends much of the novel building upon lies to hide her homelessness while squatting in the Turner house as a buffer to avoid the terror of being put outdoors. The part, however, of Morrison’s analysis that interested me most in connection to Lelah was her description of outdoors as a curtailing of excess. In The Turner House, Flournoy dedicates much of the first chapter novel to narrating Lelah’s humiliating and painful eviction, in which she has two hours to pack her belongings into her car under the watchful eye of two bailiffs. Flournoy writes, “Mostly, all Lelah did was put her hands on the things she owned, think about them for a second, and decide against carrying them to her Pontiac.” Ironically, rather than trying to cram as much of her possession as possible into her Pontiac, Lelah chooses to leave the bulk of her belongings behind. Flournoy clarifies that “Furniture was too bulk, food from the fridge would expire in her car, and the smaller things–a blender boxes of full costume jewelry, a toaster–felt too ridiculous to take along.” Here, the restriction Lelah places onto herself harkens back to Morrison’s intriguing observation that being “put outdoors” means to curtail every possibility of excess. Lelah’s possessions–the sum of years of accumulating “ridiculous,” but surely meaningful, artifacts–become reduced to triviality through the act of eviction.
The relationship between Lelah’s eviction and the curtailing of excess, of course, reminds me of a point made by Roach that we’ve returned to multiple times throughout the semester–his insight that “violence is the performance of waste.” It is not coincidental that when Lelah is evicted, the sum of her possessions that she can’t take in her Pontiac (her furniture and countless objects she trivializes as ridiculous, among others) will be disposed of in a dumpster. Her eviction, then, effectively performs waste: as the collected material value of the objects in her apartment aren’t going to be recycled or repurposed into further use, but are instead reduced to trash. The eviction also performs violence onto Lelah–a point that Morrison exemplifies in her excerpt exploring the terror and fear of being put outdoors. There’s a lot more to say on this subject, but for now, both Roach and Morrison have informed my own previous reading of Lelah’s eviction and prompted me to think about the ripple effect eviction causes in both paradoxically promoting violence and restricting the gluttony of material excess.
While thinking about progression in The Turner House last class, I remembered an analogy that I had stumbled upon before even starting the class. I found this analogy in a horror game called “ANATOMY.” At $3, the game is a surprisingly eerie and tense interactive story, revolving around finding and listening to cassette tapes in an old and dimly lit low-fi house, which teach you about, as described by the indie developer Kitty Horrorshow, “the physiology of domestic architecture.”
As I was reading the turner house, something that I wondered was why Angela Flournoy decides to include 13 Turner siblings in the novel, when only about 3 of them are heavily focused on and given a POV. Why have a family composed of so many siblings when some aren’t even accounted for? Did Flournoy just want to show the dynamics of a big family, or was she trying to get at something deeper? When I tried to answer this question in class, I said that perhaps Flournoy was trying to show that when you have such a large family, with so many stories to be told, some are “naturally” left out. Beth compared this to picking up a large pile of leaves, where some leaves are naturally going to fall out of ones grasp. However, my assertion that leaving out most of the siblings stories was a natural process was questioned. Someone in class (sorry I am forgetting who!) pointed out that this is not really natural at all but very intentional. This made me question my initial assertion, and look deeper into the stories that are not being told in this novel. Continue reading “Why 13 Siblings in the Turner House?”
As Dr. McCoy pointed out a couple classes ago, we all started to read The Turner House with expectations. For me, a lot of my expectations for the novel were framed by the fact that we’re reading this in a college course and plenty of news outlets had named it the best book of the year. However, pretty much all of my expectations were thwarted, and, sadly, not in a good way. Continue reading “Good Writing and Trust”
Birth order has always been a very intriguing topic to me, mainly because I see myself fitting very nicely in the trope of “oldest child.” In my youth, and still today, like to keep myself busy by being involved in a myriad of activities and clubs, I’m loud, bossy, and like to be the center of attention. My younger sister, the middle child, fits her prescribed path as well: she often feels as though she is “forgotten” and is much quieter and more reserved (my mother says this is because I did all the talking for her). As for my brother, the stereotypical “youngest child,” he is just as free-willed and spoiled as you might imagine. Continue reading “Birth Order and The Turner House”
**I mis-entered my password too many times, so the blog locked me out.. but I’m back!
“Although our learnings in this course have given us further insight into wall street ventures that most of us were not aware of in the past, crooked dealings by the 1% that have a huge trickling effect on the ‘real economy’ have always been hinted towards (very frequently by Bernie Sanders). With that being said, why did it take a required reading for us to finally dive into these issues? What was holding us back?”
So I’ve watched a lot of Scandal recently. Yes, the ABC network drama in it’s sixth season, that Scandal. For those of you who have not yet religiously binge watched dozens of episodes, it’s a show starring Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, a high powered woman who knows all the Washington D.C. insider secrets, and uses them to “fix problems.” She takes on high profile clients, and helps them work around the legal system of the U.S. and work the media outlets, sometimes taking advantage of those who don’t know as much so that justice, or at least her interpretation of justice, can prevail.
When I was thinking about Alpha’s questions, I thought about it in two ways: 1. Why didn’t society as a whole dive into the issues of the financial world? 2. Why didn’t I, as an individual look into these issues? (Thank you to Jes during our group discussion in class for putting what I was vaguely thinking into concrete words). My reasoning for both interpretations of the question stem from the same place. We aren’t concerned about things that don’t involve us on an individual level; we place a certain amount of faith in those who are making the decisions and setting the rules when it comes to things we don’t entirely understand. Prior to the stock market crash of 2009, not many people were affected by the actions of “the 1%.” Continue reading “Alpha’s Question (Delayed)”
In class last Friday, we ended our discussion on the language of water metaphors in finance by looking at common symbolic associations of water in literature, including the use of water to evoke symbolism of purity, vitality and renewal. We then touched on texts that aim to recontextualize the symbolic association connecting “water” to “purity,” and I mentioned T.S. Eliot’s modernist poem “The Wasteland” as a central modernist poem that invokes water imagery to highlight the growing accumulation of decay and disintegration in Modernist Europe.
Eliot plays with water imagery throughout the poem, but his most telling use of water imagery occurs in Part III of the poem, ironically titled “The Fire Sermon.” According to the footnote for the phrase “Fire Sermon” in my copy of “The Wasteland,” “The Buddha preached the Fire Sermon against the fires of lust and other passions that destroy people and prevent their regeneration.” Here, the Bhudda’s cautions of excessive lust and passions that prevent “regeneration” serve as a stark foreshadowing of the remainder of the section, which explores devastation in modern London. Eliot suggests, then, that the West perpetuates a state of crisis in modernity, a commentary reinforced by his evocation of Eastern ideals pitted against Western gluttony.
I thought Alpha’s questions for Monday’s (2/27) discussion were good things to explore. I especially had interest in the idea of Cha-Cha’s concern about the ghost “running him out of the room” because this was something I had subconsciously wondered myself, and I was curious to see where this would go in the conversation. Hearing this question put into words brought my attention back to a seemingly small detail I found interesting. Why is he more worried about being pulled out of the room than of being injured (or perhaps killed)? Continue reading “Cha-Cha’s Ghost and the “Big Room””