Community in Beloved

In Beloved by Toni Morrison, community plays a large role in the characters lives. The black community in Cincinnati acts as a salvation for ex-slaves, while the underground railroad acts as a support network for escaping slaves. These two communities are most prominently seen throughout the novel.

When Paul D is in the depths of slavery and is in his “chain gang”, him and the other prisoners around him find a way to escape together. The only way in which they are able to escape is because of the fact that they are all together, and because of the community and support provided by the underground railroad. Essentially the underground railroad is a network of people all working under the same community and fighting for the same cause-freeing slaves.

One key example of a community coming together is also seen when Baby Suggs coordinates for the whole black community of Cincinatti to provide food for Denver and Sethe when they are in need. This sense of community is even further seen when a large group of women basaically stand in front of Sethe’s home in an attempt to exorcise Beloved from the home.

Community is essential in anyone’s life, however, I believe that it is especially essential for ex-slaves trying to form a new life after slavery. In Beloved, community is what the characters fall back onto when they are in need. Without community, there definitely would not be any surviving slavery, along with the after effects of slavery.

The Fall of Yugoslavia and Exit West

In the novel, Exit West, Nadia and Saeed live in a city undergoing a civil war. Nearly 25 years ago, my parents lived in Yugoslavia during its own civil war.

The moment we began reading Exit West, I could not help but relate the details of the novel to stories my parents had told me about their life during the war. Nadia and Saeed both met in an adult education course, similar to my parents, who met at a University in Serbia. Once my parents fell in love, they did everything they could to get out of Yugoslavia. They were desperate to leave their falling country, as were Saeed and Nadia in Exit West.

In the novel, Nadia and Saeed’s relationship grows stronger as the war worsens. From Saeed waiting for Nadia in front of her apartment all day, to Nadia expressing her feelings for Saeed, it is clear that the characters have a deep bond. I believe that during a war, people hold on to others they love with more strength than otherwise. At the beginning of the novel, Saeed had his parents to take care of, but no one to truly hold on to besides them. Nadia on the other hand had no one, until she met Saeed. Therefore, when Nadia and Saeed finally do form a relationship, they hold on to each other with much strength.

When my parents first immigrated to this country, they struggled both financially and emotionally. Migrating to a new place requires immense emotional strength and endurance. Accents, for example, are a huge definer between who is a native, and who is an immigrant. Having lived in Serbia for most of their lives, both of my parents still struggle with pronunciation in America. Along with this, there are huge cultural barriers for any immigrant migrating to a new country. Small differences make immigrants stand out from the natives in a crowd. Emotionally, this can be very hard for an immigrant, making them feel out of place and marginalized.

My parents held on to each other through all of the hardships they faced during the war in Yugoslavia, and the process of assimilating to a new country. I have therefore heard many stories from my parents about their migration, and have thus have been connecting their migration to Nadia and Saeed’s own migration. I am now very curious to see where Nadia and Saeed’s migration through the magical doors will lead them, and to keep track of their relationship.

Is Meursault Really a “Stranger”?

In the novel, The Stranger, it is clear that the main character of Meursault seems to be a “stranger” in his world. From not showing any emotion at his mother’s funeral, to shooting a man with seemingly no remorse, it is hard for us as reader’s to completely understand why Meursault is the way he is. Sure, we could say he is a sociopath due to the lack of sympathy/empathy he shows throughout the text. However, I believe that us labeling Meursault as a sociopath is merely a cover up for something much deeper about his character; that being his similarity to us.

We all feel emotions on a day to day base. What I believe is the most frustrating thing in, The Stranger, is that we see almost no emotion come from Meursault. Is this necessarily a bad thing though? Meursault doesn’t feel many complex emotions, and he spends most of his time basing his life off of the physical sensations in life (sex, cigarettes, light, etc). He never seems to be happy, but he also never seems to be sad…

I believe that Meursault understands what emotions are and most likely feels them sometimes, but I think that he ultimately finds emotions (along with most things in life ) meaningless. Due to this, he remains indifferent about the majority of things in life until it comes down to physical sensations.

Now, going into the degree of Meursault’s “strangeness”:

I am sure that we all get excited for our birthday’s, Christmas, etc. Those days are the best days, right? But then you wake up the day after your birthday, or Christmas, and everything is exactly the way it was before. You might be a year older, or have a new computer; but what significance does that really bring to your life? None.

I am sure that we all have had sporadic moments in life where we have thought about how meaningless everything around us is. How your own personal existence does not really matter. How nothing matters. When we think about these truths, we for the most part, feel sadness. The people around us tell us, “No! Life is meaningful, you mean so much to this world” etc, and we think, “hmm they may be right”. We convince ourselves that we DO matter, and that the world is a better place with us on it. It would essentially be too hard to view the world as completely, and utterly meaningless.

All in all, I think that we have all been in Meursault’s shoes. So what if I kill a man? It doesn’t really matter. Nothing matters! We are all “strangers” in this world. Meursault has simply accepted that life is meaningless, whereas most of us are constantly searching for meaning in life. Which take on life is better?

An Analysis on “Barn Burning”

Image result for barn clip art

After reading this particular short story, I felt inclined to read it again for a deeper understanding as to what was really going on in the story. What encapsulated me in the story was not necessarily the events that occurred in the text, but more so the character relationships that the father (Abner Snopes) had with others, particularly Abner’s relationship with Sarty.

It is evident in the text that Sarty is a small innocent boy, far different from his father. I take it that Sarty took most of his characteristics from his mother, who tries to protect her children from the wrath of their father on numerous occasions. On the first couple pages of the text we see that Sarty is being forced to testify against his father, however the court ends up dismissing the young boy because they realize how uncomfortable Sarty is throughout the situation. We never truly find out if Sarty would have ratted his father out for burning the barn down. I think it is an interesting question to ponder upon. Would he have exposed his father’s wrongdoing, or would he have remained silent if the court forced him to speak?

While reading the last couple paragraphs of the text, the song “Burn” from the musical Hamilton was playing in my mind. The barn never really got burned down thanks to Sarty telling DeSpain of his fathers plans. Sarty’s father got killed in the process of DeSpain saving his farm however, which is where the song “Burn” comes into play (https://genius.com/Original-broadway-cast-of-hamilton-burn-lyrics ). The lyrics in the song go “You have torn it all apart; I’m watching it burn”, which I think play perfectly into Sarty and Abner’s relationship at the end of the story.

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Abner’s evil intentions were the primary reason that led Sarty’s honest nature to expose his fathers plans of burning the barn down. In the last paragraphs of the text Sarty is saddened by his fathers death, he is watching his fathers life “burn” away. Sarty runs away and doesn’t look back. Does a better future await Sarty?