Global Lit.

November 22nd, 2010

“I never emulate white men and brown men whose fates didn’t speak to my own. It was into my father’s image, the black man, son of Africa, that I’d packed all the attributes I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, Dubois and Mandela.”

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Check it out: Obama

WEB DuBois declared that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” He further wrote that beyond the challenges of interaction with their lighter-hued and more powerful compatriots, America’s people of color had to wrestle with an interior double-consciousness, the task of merging their “African and American” identities. (If this interestests you take a look at this:  also interesting :

Often individuals of multi-racial backgrounds feel like they are forced to choose only one part of the racial identity to define themselves. W.E.B. DuBois theory of ‘Double Consciousness implies that as a black person, one has a dual identity. This theory relates to the theme of racial identity in Barack Obama’s book, Dreams from my Father. Barack discusses how he was aware of this idea of a spilt identity at a young age.

“I went into the bathroom and stood in front of the mirror with all my senses and limbs seemingly intact, looking as I had always looked, and wondered if something was wrong with me,” said six-year old Obama.   This notion came after Obama read about blacks’ unsuccessful attempts to lighten their skin and become white.   “I began to notice Cosby never got the girl on I Spy..nobody was like me in the Sears, Roebuck Christmas catalog, and that Santa was a white man..I kept these observations to myself.”(52).

The ideas of racial tension and how Obama chose to try and not make his bi-racial heritage a topic of interest while pursuing his political aspirations is something I rather admire. “I hear the spirit of Douglass and Delany, as well as Jefferson and Lincoln; the struggles of Martin and Malcolm and unheralded marchers to bring these words to life.   I hear the voices of Japanese families interned behind barbed wire; young Russian Jews cutting patterns in Lower East Side sweatshops; dust-bowl farmers loading up their trucks with the remains of shattered lives. I hear the voices of the people in Altgeld Gardens, the voices of those who stand outside this country’s borders, the weary, hungry bands crossing the Rio Grande.   I hear all these voices clamoring for recognition, all of them asking the very same questions that have come to shape my life.” (437-438)

Overall, I did not find this book to be one big propaganda ridden text with “vote for me, vote for me, vote for me” as subliminal subtext hidden within.  I felt like I could be reading anyone’s story, not necessarily that of the now current President of the United States.  Obama seemed to me, for the first time, a real person; one who sat on some of the same steps and stoops as I on the UWS of NY, one who despite many advantages in life, still struggled to make it and to define himself, one who tried to answer the question of “What does it mean to be American?”

November 16th, 2010


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November 10th, 2010

April 8, 1928

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In this last section, Easter Sunday 1938, we have no single first person narrative, the only one like this in the book.  Here the focus is on Dilsey.  It can be said, that while the Compson’s grow weak by looking inward, Dilsey gains strength and power by looking outward, that is relying on her faith.On this Easter Sunday, Dilsey takes her family and Benjy to the ‘colored’ church. Through her we sense the consequences of  the way in which the Compsons have lived for decades. And even though Dilsey is mistreated and abused, she remains loyal. She, with the help of Luster, cares for Benjy, as she takes him to church and tries to bring him to salvation.

The tension between Jason and Miss Quentin also comes to a head in this section. The family discovers that Miss Quentin has run away in the middle of the night with a carnival worker, having found the hidden collection of cash in Jason’s closet and taken both her money (the support from Caddy, which Jason had stolen) and Jasons life savings. Jason calls the police and tells them that his money has been stolen, but since it would mean admitting embezzling Quentin’s money he doesn’t press the issue. Good, I think he deserves what he got!!!!

The novel ends with an unsettling image. After church, Dilsey allows her grandson Luster to drive Benjy in the family’s horse and carriage (another sign of decay) to the graveyard. Luster drives the wrong way around a monument and this slight variation from the norm is enough to disrupt Benjy’s state of mind. Benjy’s hysterical sobbing and violent outburst can only be quieted by Jason, of all people, who understands how best to placate his brother. Jason slaps Luster, turns the carriage around, and Benjy suddenly becomes silent. Luster turns around to look at Benjy and sees Benjy drop his flower. Benjy’s eyes are “…empty and blue and serene again.”

November 4th, 2010

April 6, 1928

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In this section, Jason is the narrator.  He is, out of the lot, the most straight forward with his thoughts and actions.  I do like this quality about him, however, its the only one I admire, since he is, how can I say this as nicely as possible, a jerk!!  He assumes the financial burden for the family, howver, this makes him bitter, spiteful and at times flat out mean.  He goes so far as to blackmail Caddy into making him Miss Quentin’s sole guardian, then uses that role to steal the support payments that Caddy sends for her daughter. Jasons treatment of Caddy at her fathers funeral is also shocking and it is evident that, although he economically supports the family, emotionally he is void of all connections to them and his greed and need for money and power seems to trump all else, inluding stable human to human relationships.

November 2nd, 2010

If it had been cloudy…

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“If it had been cloudy I could have looked out the windowdy, thinking about what he had said about idle habits.  Thinking it would be nice to  for them down at New London if the weather held up like this.”

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