Our Journey Through Beloved

James Bonn, Yadelin Fernandez, Randall Lombardi, Margaret Pigliacelli, Abigail Ritz, Rickie Strong, and Eleanor Walker

Written in the fourteenth century, Dante’s Inferno has become a famous cosmological depiction of Hell, as well as a narrative interpreted by various writers throughout the centuries.  Dante’s descent through the nine circles of Hell with his spiritual guide Virgil teaches Dante the consequences for sinning through the punishments he observes in each circle of Hell.  After passing the first seven circles and interacting with various historical and mythological characters, Dante and Virgil arrive at the eighth circle of Hell via the monstrous Geryon.  The Eighth Circle known as the “Malebolge” contains the fraudulent and malicious sinners and is organized in a succession of ten ring-shaped valleys, or bolgias, that go deeper into Hell as they get closer into the center. Each valley has punishments that are specific to the crimes that are committed in relation to fraud. There are bridges over each of the valleys that the pilgrim and guide take; however, the bridge over the sixth valley has collapsed. This collapsed bridge forces Virgil and the Pilgrim to descend into the valley, in order to continue the journey. Dante sees Jason, the Greek hero, being punished for being a seducer in the first bolgia, where the sinners are punished  by being forced to walk single file forever, while demons whip them to keep order. In observing these punishments Dante’s character rediscovers his moral consciousness through the shift in his attitude towards the suffering souls. Initially only pitying few, Dante by the end of his journey through hell has developed empathy for all the souls he witnesses suffering, thus demonstrating Dante’s recovering of his moral way of life and illuminating the act of moral consideration.        

Continue reading “Our Journey Through Beloved”

Slavery Broke the World

In N.K. Jemisin’s work we see an earth twice (if not more times — remember, much of history is unwritten) shattered; once torn apart by the mysterious loss of the moon, once fragmented by Alabaster’s explosive and revolutionary orogeny.  In both cases, the shattering acts as a catalyst, as an end of on era: in the first case as an end to that stability which allows humanity to flourish (perhaps too much?) and a beginning of that chaotic existence which destroys society after society; in the second, the shattering is an end to the oppressive Sanzed regime and the beginning of some (thus far unknown) new world.  We can make geological and environmental connections galore in this world of unreliable, yet controllable, earth, but after stumbling upon a specific quote from Toni Morrison I have been mainly entranced by the myriad of metaphorical connotations this shattering embodies. Continue reading “Slavery Broke the World”

The Mysterious “Zoot Suit” Man

One element of Toni Morrison’s Home that I found particularly interesting was the appearance of the zoot suit-wearing ghost-like figure seen by Frank throughout the novel. This mysterious man appears to Cee as well, after Frank has brought her along to provide a proper burial of the bones of a man who had been forced to fight his son to the death, solely for the entertainment of a white crowd. Morrison seems to emphasize the importance of a proper burial for transitioning to an afterlife, and the timing of the ghost-like figure’s appearance at Frank and Cee’s burial seems to be a representation of this proper transition.

Continue reading “The Mysterious “Zoot Suit” Man”