Fascinating or Creepy

The story “A Conversation about Bread” by Nafissa Thompson Spires, is a story about two boys that were assigned to complete a writing assignment. Eldwin has to write a story about an interesting moment from Brian’s life. As we follow Eldwin through the many revisions and edits to his writing, Brian shows the reader his interesting point of view on storytelling.

There seems to be a recurring motif in the story of a white woman creepily watching and observing people of color. There is the white woman who takes notes while they are writing, there is stalker Kim, and there is the lady that went to college with Brian’s mom. I believe this was done intentionally. Throughout the short story, Brian seems to get mad at Eldwin when he writes about his life, because he believes that the way Eldwin is writing, is almost as if he is “fetishizing” people of color in order to make the story more “interesting” for the reader. This idea of white people “fetishizing” stories of people of color is present in many stories today and can actually come off as creepy or distancing. This is also demonstrated when Brian tells Eldwin about his mom’s roommate in college. Brian says “So she could catch her in her ‘natural state.’ The girl was sending the pictures home to her family, like, look at this elephant I saw at the watering hole or this native with a disc in her lip”(179). In these instances, this extreme fascination makes the person being observed feel uncomfortable and “exotic”. This is demonstrated again when Brian says  that “ both men felt like unicorns in their grad program” and that “ he was more self-conscious about his black maleness than his disability”(177). I find this interesting because I have never noticed this before. After reading this story I realized that many of the pieces of literature that I have read in the past fit this exact idea. I believe that we should strive to make stories interesting and appealing to the reader, without singling out races different from our own as “exotic”.

“Good Country People” or not so much

I read the story the ” Good Country People” by Flannery O’Connor and I thought the story was good but the characters were so weird. For example Mrs.Hopewell was supposed to be this kind women but she was so mean to her daughter. She would say things like ” If you can’t come pleasantly, I don’t want you at all”(2), when she would try to walk with her mom. Mrs.Hopewell also had so many negative thoughts about her daughter and the most shocking one was that she had not come into realization that her daughter only had one leg. Even though the accident was over twenty years ago and you would think that Hulga would not have realized it but it was actually the mom. Also I think Mrs. Hopewell is super fake in a way. Like she not that fond of Mrs. Freedman but she still kept her in the house. Another example of her being fake was her blaming her daughter for not having a bible because she was try to get out of talking to Manley. I just felt like she did not have to lie on her daughter and she could have came up with a better excuse.

On Authorial Intent and Mutual Recognition

Recently, I have been re-watching the Harry Potter series. I re-read the books last year, for the first time since I was in early middle school. But I have found myself hesitant to endorse this series that I love because of the comments of J.K. Rowling, the author of the books.

Over the years, she has made many claims about the books. Following the publication of the last book in the series, she announced that Albus Dumbledore had been gay all along. At one point, she claimed that she had envisioned Hermione Granger, one of the main characters, as a black girl. But these announcements came post facto, and were therefore far too late.

By introducing these ideas after the characters had been solidified in the public’s mind, J.K. Rowling robbed these characters of mutual recognition. These supposedly central parts of characters identities had been hidden for years. How could we mutually recognize characters for traits that had never been expressed? By withholding the information that she claimed to have known all along, Rowling’s pathetic attempts at inclusivity fall short.

No young black girl is reading Harry Potter and relating to Hermione because of her struggles with racism or colorism. No closeted teens are watching these movies and seeing one of the main heroes of the story be LGBTQ+ like them. If the people she now tries to include can’t recognize their struggles in these stories, is she really including them at all?

How are they trapped in the spiderhead?

While reading the story “Escape from spiderhead” I was truly shocked while reading the story. The whole idea that they were stuck in a science experiment because they were criminals or did wrong in their life was interesting. For example, Jeff was a criminal and he told the story about his crime ” Nearby was a brick. I grabbed it, glanced Mike in the head with it”(77). We also never knew exactly what were all the crimes each person committed. There were a lot of questions about the story that we did not get the answer too. Like how long they would be in this experiment ? Does jail even exist anymore? But having all these unanswered questions made you think about the story more when you were done reading the story. But I love a good ending where all the ties are wrapped together and I get all my questions answered.

Stories

Since the beginning of the year, we have been talking about stories and how they relate to us, each other, and the world. There is one quote from The God of Small Things that I think ties the book into the whole year. “…because kathakali discovered long ago that the secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably” (218).

I think that the part of the quote that talks about wanting to hear the same story again speaks to this book. Although the book has very dark parts and isn’t the happiest book, it is still very well written and many people, including myself, would want to read it again.

Furthermore, I think the part that says, “The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably” is very important and truly does speak to all good stories. I interperate this as no matter whats going on in the world around you, if you pick up a good book you can get lost in the story and forget about reality for a bit. The book sort of takes you under it’s wing and takes care of you while you escape reality. I think that this can also apply to movies or tv shows, becuase they too are stories.

With everything going on in the world right now, I have found myself choosing my favorite stories and inhabiting them quite comfortably. Although it is important to stay aware of whats happening, I think it is equally important to lose yourself in a great story.

The Secret of Stories

At the beginning of Chapter 12, while Rahel is at the temple Roy’s words stood out to me about the “secret” formula of stories. While being home I have been watching a lot of movies that my parents liked to watch in the 80’s and around that time. Roy describes the Power of Stories and why people choose to rewatch a movie or reread a specific book even after multiple years, and they still enjoy it as much as they did the first time.

The secret of the Great Stories is that they have no secrets. The Great Stories are the ones you have heard and want to hear again. The ones you can enter anywhere and inhabit comfortably. They don’t deceive you with thrills and trick endings. They don’t surprise you with the unforeseen. (218)

While the first part of the quote may seem unimportant at first, this is exactly the reason books or movies continue to be popular even though it has been years since they came out and are labeled “classics.” But the second part of the quote is what really ties it all together.

They are as familiar as the house you live in. Or the smell of your lover’s skin. You know how they end, yet you listen as though you don’t. In the way that although you know that one day you will die, you live as though you won’t. In the Great Stories you know who lives, who dies, who finds love, who doesn’t. And yet you want to know again. (218)

This was giving me flashbacks to the beginning of the year when we talked about the power of stories, which I think especially is true with God of Small Things. The language and the characters are “fresh and different” the book is something different and has a different feeling when you read it. I think something that makes this book so enjoyable is because the book from the beginning is familiar and easy to enjoy. It doesn’t require a lot of deep thinking, but is still able to communicate a deeper meaning. Overall, this quote really made me think about all of the books and even movies that I reread and rewatch and the reason I keep doing it even though I already know everything that happens.