Better Kept A Secret?

As my first blog post, I want to write about the question that Dr. McCoy asked us to think about after this week’s class. In Home, by Toni Morrison, during Frank Money’s time in North Korea, we were left with the mysterious question as to who shot the Korean child and why? Throughout the book, Morrison slowly reveals who Frank is as a person, and allowing the reader to come up with their own conclusions.

Before Frank went to war, he had negative feelings towards his hometown, Lotus, Georgia. Frank was curious of the unknown, and wanted more out of his life. He felt he would be able to fill in those gaps, by leaving town and joining the army. Although Frank was able to experience new things, it came at cost of losing his self-identity. At first Frank lies to the narrator about who killed the little Korean girl, blaming the murder on a guard. It was not until later in the book, when the truth of who shot the child was finally revealed. Sadly, it was Frank.

Throughout the book, as the reader we have noticed Morrison’s deliberate attempt at brevity. Allowing us to organize our thoughts and interpret the story for ourselves. Particularly about the shooting of the little Korean girl, which was inspired by Frank’s illicit sexual desire to the child. There could have been so much more Frank could have said about this. So why did he do it? After Frank confesses to killing the little girl, I believe it is because he was afraid of the possibility of what he is capable of doing. Thus, in order to prevent himself from ever acting on those desires, he eliminates it completely out of his life. It also saddens me to look at the situation through the little girl’s perspective. The fact that she was willing to give up her body, at such young age, in order to survive, tells us a lot about how she was raised. After returning to the USA, Frank carries this shame and it affects his relationship with his sister, Cee.

 

 

Here Stands A Man

In Tony Morrison’s Home, he creates a connection in the beginning of his book to the end of his book. In the beginning of the book Morrison writes, “They were so beautiful. So brutal. And they stood like men.” (Pg. 5). This was in reference to the horses that Frank spotted after him and his sister Cee witnessed the burial of a man. Morrison later on connects that quote by writing, “Here Stands A Man.” (Pg 145). This was in reference to Frank and Cee reburying the body of the man from the start of the book. I found this quote to be ironic because the man they buried is clearly not standing for he is dead. The simile made in the beginning of the novel is symbolic in many ways. Horses are known to be strong, majestic creatures. I decided to do research on the symbolic meaning of claiming a horse as a spirit animal. I discovered that a horse is symbolic for war, service to others, fertility, and power of mind, body and spirit. Each of these symbols are reoccurring themes that are presented in the book Home.

 

War is represented in that Frank served in the army and fought in the war. During the war Frank felt as if he was alive.

 

Service to others was present in that Frank has witnessed various deaths of his friends in war, such as his friend Mike and Stuff. When Frank discovered that Cee was in danger, he feared that he would not be able to save Cee as well. Frank was the saving grace in Cee’s childhood. He loved and protected her when all the adults were either too busy or too bitter to care. But he protected her so well that she never learned to take care of herself.

 

Fertility was evident after Cee being unable to bare a child. Although it is the opposite of being fertile, this part in the book was critical in further developing Cee’s character. Cee had to come to terms with being unable to get pregnant. She later picked up making quilts. Frank convinces Cee to use her first quilt in aiding in the burial of the unnamed man. I interpreted them burying Cee’s first quilt as putting the past behind them and beginning a new life.

 

Power of mind, body and spirit was distinguished through Frank’s PTSD. In the book Frank is faced with the difficult decision of letting a little Korean girl live with the pain of being mentally and physically abused or killing her. Frank chose to kill her because not only is it saving her from the traumatizing experience, it is saving Frank from having to live with the guilt. The story of the Korean girl was never mentioned in the book after the first time it was brought up, and I believe this is because it is triggering to Frank and due to his PTSD he attempts to repress this memory.

A bit of a research breakthrough

When presented with the chance to do research on Morrison, and specifically her connections to Dante, I was thrilled; it felt as if I was getting the chance to do real things in terms of literary analysis in a new, more professional atmosphere. But I found myself easily frustrated and overwhelmed because I simply wasn’t sure where to start.

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The Impact of A Fresh Start

In this blog post, I would like to get into a technical aspect of reading literature and talk about how form can make a lasting impact on how you understand and interpret what you read. Form can be defined as “the manner or style of arranging and coordinating parts for a pleasing or effective result, as in literary or musical composition” according to dictionary.com, therefore, the way a piece of literature is physically structured can make an impact on how we perceive it. Specifically, I want to talk about the effectiveness and importance of a line break. Although this is more prominently used within poetry, it can be just as effective in many other types of literature. By using a line break, it creates a emphasis on the following line, leading the reader to pay a little more attention to it. In this post, I would like to talk about an instance where this happens within Fortune’s Bones that really stood out to me.
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Dwarf the Soul and Preserve the Body

In PhD Alonda Nelson’s The Long Duree of Black Lives Matter, she explains that immediately after the Emancipation Proclamation freed African slaves throughout America, there was a tremendous spike in lynchings and also police violence against Africans, a problem which persists today. While I would never denigrate all police officers with a broad brush, especially considering the proliferation of illegal guns in poor, often predominately black communities in America, there is undoubtedly an epidemic of police brutality against Africans in the form of excessive force, racial profiling and even shooting unarmed civilians because of a perceived threat based on racial biases. In response to abolition, whites who lost their free labor spurred a counter movement aimed at suppressing the liberties and literal existence of Africans in America. This manifested itself through occupational and educational discrimination, redlining and extrajudicial murders but even more sadistically and methodically through mass sterilization by doctors who blacks had no choice but to trust.

In the article, Nelson describes what Fanne Lou Hemer experienced, calling it the “Mississippi appendectomy.” This referred to a method of sterilizing poor African women in her home state, an injustice she herself experienced at the hands of a white doctor in 1961. In chapter 12 of Toni Morrison’s Home, which takes place years after the Korean War during the same time period Nelson was actually victimized, Frank discovers Cee unconscious at Dr. Scott’s office with blood around her genital area. Earlier in the novel, Cee admired Dr. Scott for helping poor, underprivileged blacks out of what she presumed was the kindness of his heart. What she did not notice was his books on eugenics. In chapter 12 when Frank arrives at the doctors office, Dr. Scott is so scared that Frank has come to exact revenge on him that he tries to shoot Frank, but fails because he is out of bullets. To him, Cee was dispensable and he therefore didn’t feel guilty about experimenting on he r or sterilizing her, but was instead only fearful for his own life. Dr. Scott was a fraud like so many doctors must have been at the time. For people to summarily dismiss Black Lives Matter as either fringe or unnecessary in modern times, they must ask themselves if medical professionals in their parents’ generations had drugged someone they knew unconscious and sterilized them and people like you or them on a systematic level if you would feel like people cared about your life.

When BLM protests in the streets on behalf of current, prevalent police brutality and murdering of black people, people say they are themselves the problem and should organize and protest respectfully and totally nonviolently. Yet when Colin Kaepernick of the NFL took a knee during the national anthem (he was the first to do so), he was ultimately fired and essentially blacklisted by all teams. He vocalized that he was protesting racial inequality in America and received minimal support. It was only when President Donald Trump actually called the NFL players who protested “sons of bitches” while saying they should “be fired” that NFL owners supported the protest during the national anthem. Before Trump had called out the NFL brand, only the players, many of whom are black, supported the protest and it wasn’t until after his comments that the billionaire owners supported the movement. This support is not because they wish to fight racial inequality, but rather to preserve a profitable brand which takes young men and swallows them to feed the beast in exchange for temporary fame and fortune, almost always causing the individual permanent physical injury in the process. The article writes about Fred Hampton, a Black Panther’s Party leader who was killed in his sleep by law enforcement ultimately for spouting ideas like “policing the police” and endorsing wider social justice. Kaepernick is a more mild, modern equivalent martyr in the sense that he compromised his promising, lucrative career as an NFL quarterback in order to stand up for his inconvenient beliefs (ironically by kneeling).

Dark Usage of the English Language

The more one looks into racism, the more prevalent it appears. From investigating racism further in this class, I was astonished at the profound effect it has on many disciplines. Its integration into literature and the English language in particular is astonishing. Max’s description in class of the field of gynecology being “dark” sparked my further investigation into terms in English that have racist backgrounds. When I looked up the word “dark”, I found various definitions: “gloomily pessimistic”, “a situation characterized by tragedy, unhappiness, or unpleasantness”, and “not fair in complexion” (Merriam-Webster). Continue reading “Dark Usage of the English Language”

Ignorance vs. Knowledge

In brainstorming potential collective course statements, I saw repetition of a common idea: increasing knowledge is essential. Grace, Jennifer, Sabrina, Emma, myself, and other classmates all emphasized that a vital takeaway from this course is that we should increase learning to create societal change.  This necessary increase in knowledge is overwhelming. Faced with the impossible task of attempting to learn everything conflicts with the common saying–“ignorance is bliss”. Is ignorance bliss? Or is knowledge power? Continue reading “Ignorance vs. Knowledge”

Compulsion and Consent

I want to write this blog post in response to the question Dr. McCoy asked us to think about last class, as I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which the Clay’s Ark enclave might be better or worse than the outside world and the real world around us. I was unable to attend class today, so I’m not sure if this topic was discussed/what was said about it; my apologies if I repeat anything that has already been discussed, but I wanted to explore this topic and perhaps I will bring up something new along the way.

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Grappling with Clay’s Ark

Leading into reading this novel, I was internally struggling with how I was going to get through this class. I am not a fan of science fiction, and the syllabus felt overwhelming, especially when considering the entire class was centered around science fiction novels. However, since the first chapters (Past 1, etc.) I have been extremely interested in the narratives that Butler has created.

I have found myself becoming immersed in the reading, and not wanting to put it down after I had finished the sections assigned for each class. I often found myself conflicted with the ideas of how I felt I should have been feeling based off of the things we discussed in class, such as the concepts of consent and humanity. In a way, I often found myself being disturbed because I was more comfortable with the super-natural beings in the enclave who often defied the laws of consent and “ruined” so many peoples’ lives and I found myself annoyed and uncomfortable with other characters such as Blake. Why am I finding myself being more accepting of these characters that are so destructive in their ways and wishing those who are victims of these people to disappear? I am interested in the ways that Butler’s future novels that we read will lead me to conflicting feelings once again.

My first impressions of this class were clearly wrong, and I’m happy to have found another English class that leads me to think about class discussions and the themes in the books we read long after I have left the class. It also doesn’t hurt that I look forward to reading in between classes.

Colonialism in Clay’s Ark

On Friday, Dr. McCoy pushed us to remember that it isn’t Eli waking up and scratching the original inhabitants of the enclave that set the world up for an epidemic, it’s that people went to Proxi Two and were exposed to the disease in the first place. This seemed to suggest that colonialism, not an individual, is responsible for what ultimately happens to Earth. Once this idea took root in my head, it was hard not to read Clay’s Ark through that lens.

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