“Nuns go by as quiet as lust…” – Page 9
I believe the book so far is very well written on the realistic racial standards of the time period. It is written in a way that is made to be confusing at it is all seen from a young child’s perspective, who is not told the information of something all at once. It is like when you are older and learn things about your family that makes things suddenly make sense.
The author depicts, “Later I threw up, and my mother says, ‘What did you puke on the bed clothes for? Don’t you have sense enough to hold your head out of the bed?’ “(pg 10). Here, Claudia’s mother explains how inconvenient it is for her child to be sick. She’s more focused on the time and effort needed to clean up the mess rather than comforting her child. This is done instead of caring for Claudia’s health. This is one instance where the level of effort outweighs the love the mother has for a child, also known as the burden of motherhood. However, being a mother is particularly burdensome due to the racial inequality. More effort needs to be done to barely get by for the family, as their quality of life is extremely poor. As you can see, the first chapter not only gives us introductions to the characters, tone, and plot, but also some of the themes.
On page 10 when it says, ” Adults do not talk to us- the give us directions. They order issues without providing information.” This statement in the chapter aids in showing how alone the children feel and are portrayed. They have no guidance or real knowledge about life because the adults do not take the time to explain. For example, a teenage girl should be aware of what menstruating is and how do deal with it, however, these girls do not because they do not have a warm and loving adult to look up to and ask. They have no real understanding about life and the important things and it is a tragic occurrence.
The way these girls are growing up makes me feel very bad for them. They live in an old, beaten up house and they seem to be more just watched over than actually cared for and nurtured. For example in the quote, “But I did know that nobody ever asked me what I wanted for Christmas. Had any adult with the power to fulfill my desires taken me seriously and asked me what I wanted, they would have known that I did not want to have anything to own, or to possess any object. I wanted rather to feel something on Christmas day.”(21-22), Claudia says that no one even asked her what she wanted, which is very sad, but it isn’t even entirely about her getting a toy she didn’t want, she would have rather had an experience with her family and to “feel something” than to have a material object, revealing the fact that being close with her mother and father figures isn’t something she gets often, if at all. And when Pecola started menstruating, and the girls had no idea what to do or what it meant besides “you can make babies now”, the mother didn’t even take the time to explain to any of them what it was and how to care for it, she just cleaned up Pecola, helped her out, and sent them all off on their way.
I found the events unfolding with Claudia getting sick interesting and confusing at first. I didnt get why Claudias mother was mad at her for getting sick, however, I realized that her mother wasn’t mad at her, but more so mad at the sickness. Claudia caught the cold while gathering coal from the railroad track that had fallen off passing carts. This is a normal and expected chore for the girls (Claudia and her sister Frieda). While, Claudia is sick, Frieda comforts her with her singing. I noted that this is a good representation for the reader to show the relationship between the sisters early in the book. All around, I felt the chapter was an introduction and a very good one at that. It did a good job intrudicing the time period, the living conditions/setting, and main characters. Also, it previewed some of the hardships that the main characters might face. Signs of no power can be inferred as well as being an African American female, and poor, in the 1940s was very difficult.
The passage opens with unsettlingly sexual tones by saying “Nuns go by as quiet as lust,” and this tells me that it will only get worse from there. It continues this way when it reads, “When she comes out of the car we will beat her up, …and she will cry and ask us do we want her to pull her pants down.” This is an odd thing for her to just offer her attackers, and it could show she is conditioned to do this when beaten. All of the girls in this story seem to have a dark future.
In general, the girl’s home life does not seem to be very good. They are often cold and sick, and when they cough they’re scolded, the sickness is seen as them being weak. They don’t appear to be very well off based on the mothers anger over missing milk, and with the addition of Pecola this situation can only be made worse. The gift of the doll reveals that it isn’t material goods the girls need, but just a feeling of happiness and love. This household seems more like a factory than a home, the mother just wants efficiency.
Henry seems to be a quite unsettling character. The girls trust him very much, and that trust could be taken advantage of. The scene where the girls run their hands all over him leaves me feeling uncomfortable, and I worry for the girls.
In the role the children are in, they don’t seem to get the chance to speak for themselves often. When Pecola begins menstruating, Freya is beaten for helping, but does not defend herself until asked to. This creates an atmosphere of fear in the home.
The chapter was clearly the introduction, showing insight to time period and living conditions. Clearly the conditions were not the best, with the bed so cold and the windows needing to be covered with rags. The mother seems very old fashioned, which is expected from the time period, with her daughter being afraid to catch a cold. It is clear that the mother cares, she is just stern, seemingly an important quality given the family’s low social status, noting they are “minorities in caste and class”. The daughters make do with their situation, although you would have to if that’s all you’ve ever known.
I feel sad for the girls as they’re growing up in a old beaten up, dirty house. They aren’t treated fairly, and they’re too young and innocent to comprehend what’s occurring at home.
Claudia experience several instances of powerlessness. For example; she’s living in a world where children are to be seen and not heard, her mother takes better care of her sister, she also is experiencing what it is like to be poor and African American in the 1940s. I seems as though being a poor, African American female in the 1940s are heavy signs of powerlessness.
In the first chapter, the tone was very dark. The reader sees these two young girls who are already in poverty get a new roommate named Mr. Henry. In my opinion Mr. Henry seems very shady and creepy. He comes across as creepy when he first meets the girls and he makes a little joke and does a magic trick for them. “”Hello there. You must be Greta Garbo, and you must be Ginger Rogers.” We giggled. Even my father was startled into a smile. Want a penny?” He held out a shinny coin to us.”(Pg. 16) In the quote the reader sees that Mr. Henry is creepy. In the quote the reader sees that the author uses the word “startled” to describe the father’s reaction to Mr. Henry’s joke. It is also weird how the only thing he said when entering the home was to the children and not to the adults. It makes me uncomfortable to see Mr. Henry around the children when he seems to pay most of his attention to the children. Mr. Henry comes across as like a child abductor by the way he tries to captivate the children with the magic trick. In my opinion I feel like the creepy Mr. Henry on top of top of their living situation makes me feel bad for the children, they should not have to grow up in a dark, cold and unsafe environment. They have to steal coal to burn the lamps and were jealous of Rosemary Villanucci who because cause of the fact she was in a car and because she had food. The overall situation for these two young girls is worry some and makes me scared for them throughout the rest of the book.
One thing that stuck out to me in this chapter is how Claudia starts to begin to feel what it is like to be powerless. She sees it in a couple ways. She sees it in the way that children do not really have much power. She feels seen but not heard. This is more of a universal powerlessness, unlike the other ways she experiences it. Second, She experiences it as an african american and poor during the 1940s in America. She and her family are fighting just to cling to society while the thought of homelessness is always there. Finally, she experiences powerlessness as a women in a society where they are not seen as equal. All of this experiences, however, all combine and become hard for Claudia to separate so it is very hard for her to fully understand her situation.
Nice picture there Gabe Norris
“So when Mr. Henry arrived on a Saturday night, we smelled him.” (Page 39 of my ebook)
My first reaction when I read this was that I thought it was creepy to have two little girls come up and stiff someone. My second thought was that it might have been okay as a one time occurrence because the girls are nine and ten and don’t know that smelling a stranger isn’t a polite and common way to great someone. This might have a deeper meaning as the girls trying to act like grown up as acting from the conversation they overheard but I am not completely certain of that idea yet. I am not thrilled about this not but I hope that this will become more interesting moving though the chapters.
Uh, I hope this is the one that goes up to page 33. I also am enjoying this book a little bit.
The first thing I noticed was that the passage/chapter is very descriptive when it comes to certain events, such as the vomit or the bush scene. The second thing I notice is there is a lot of racism within this book. These two things I notice are complementing each other since racism has some descriptive details to describe the event or a person. The mood the passage creates for me is uneasiness, as sometimes the events can be really descriptive.
The opening line always startles me when she says, “ Nuns go by as quiet as lust“ (9). It sets up an odd expectation for the novel and something unsettling.
I can’t help but feel bad for the girls. I don’t even think they understand the turmoil in their own home as the story begins.
Their boarder Mr. Henry automatically makes me uncomfortable. I found some foreshadowing when she says, “We loved him. Even after what came later, there was no bitterness in our memory of him” (16). Something isn’t going to be right. I don’t know what, but I think he is going to hurt someone, somehow.
Again, I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness in this chapter. Even holidays and times when children are supposed to be happy with gifts, the girls still can’t find any sense of bliss. Even when discussing the continual gifts of dolls she says, “Had any adult with the power to fulfill my desires taken me seriously and asked me what I wanted, they would have known that I did not want to have anything to own, or to possess any object. I wanted rather to feel” (21). I want to feel?
Obviously, the chapter ends on one of the saddest notes. When Pecola begins to menstruate, the three girls have no idea what to do. There isn’t any knowledge or awareness. Instead they try some childlike way to make it stop. Even that night when Ms MacTeer helps take care of it. They girls are still unaware and have no adult discussion about life. Instead they talk about:
After a long while she spoke very softly. “Is it true that I can have a baby now?”
“Sure,” said Frieda drowsily. “Sure you can.”
“But . . . how?” Her voice was hollow with wonder. “Oh,” said Frieda, “somebody has to love you.” “Oh.” (32)
Their idea that it only means they can have a baby shows a warped sense of understanding.
It’s only then that Claudia makes the realization, “ [it] had never entered my mind. ‘How do you do that? I mean, how do you get somebody to love you?’ But Frieda was asleep. And I didn’t know. (32). I can tell this is a question that will be repeated throughout the novel.
“Adults do not talk to us- they give us directions. They issue orders without providing information.” (page 10) It is at this point in the story that the cold relationship between the adults and children is first presented. This relationship continues to be referenced throughout the entire chapter. The lack of warmth and the lack of a genuine relationship between the adults and children, especially the girls and their mother, was surprising to me because of its extremity. They do not have comfortable, casual conversations with adults and, as a result, the adults do not truly know anything about the children. Additionally, the adults criticize everything the girls do and blame them for things they cannot control like getting sick. This flawed relationship creates sympathy for the girls and allows the reader to feel their frustration of being misunderstood by the adults in their lives.