Here are the passages we identified in class on Wednesday that we would focus on for the final exam. In class on Thursday, we will add any additional passages and work to develop our responses to them, in addition to establishing the instructions for the exam.
If you have any additional passages you would like to add, please do so in the comments.
Quicksand: (these will be completed, but in the meanwhile, you can find them by going to the given page in the online version and looking for the beginning and ending word or phrase.
online copy 196-7 “It’s racial…I have offered you marriage…step”
231 “Don’t you ever intend to marry, Helga?” “Some day, perhaps. I don’t know. Marriage–that means children, to me. And why add more suffering to the world? Why add more unwanted, tortured Negroes to America? Why do Negroes have children? Surely it must be sinful. Think of the awfulness of being responsible for the giving of life to creatures doomed to endure such wounds to the flesh, such wounds to the spirit, as Negroes have to endure.”
6 “He hoped…prayed”
chapter 2 (p 45 in the4 yellow book) “But just what did she want. Barring a desire for material security, gracious ways of living, a profusion of lovely clothes, and a goodly share of envious admiration. Helga Crane didn’t know, couldn’t tell. But there was, she knew, something else. Happiness, she supposed. Whatever that might be. What, exactly, she wondered, was happiness? Very positively she wanted it. Yet her conception of it had no tangibility. She couldn’t define it, isolate it, and contemplate it as she could some other abstract things. Hatred, for instance. Or kindness.
“The Shawl” by Louise Erdrich
There is something terrible about fighting your father. It came on suddenly, with the second blow—a frightful kind of joy. A power surged up from the center of me, and I danced at him, light and giddy, full of a heady rightness. Here is the thing: I wanted to waste him, waste him good. I wanted to smack the living shit out of him. Kill him, if I must. A punch for Doris, a kick for Raymond. And all the while I was silent, then screaming, then silent again, in this rage of happiness that filled me with a simultaneous despair so that, I guess you could say, I stood apart from myself.
First, I told him that keeping his sister’s shawl was wrong, because we never keep the clothing of the dead. Now’s the time to burn it, I said. Send it off to cloak her spirit. And he agreed.
When his father said those words, the boy went still. What had his sister felt? What had thrust through her heart? Had something broken inside her, too, as it had in him? Even then, he knew that this broken place inside him would not be mended, except by some terrible means. For he kept seeing his mother put the baby down and grip his sister around the waist. He saw Aanakwad swing the girl lightly out over the side of the wagon. He saw the brown shawl with its red lines flying open. He saw the shadows, the wolves, rush together, quick and avid, as the wagon with sled runners disappeared into the distance—forever, for neither he nor his father saw Aanakwad again.
“The Shawl” by Cynthia Ozick
Rosa did not feel hunger; she felt light, not like someone walking but like someone in a faint, in trance, arrested in a fit, someone who is already a floating angel, alert and seeing everything, but in the air, not there, not touching the road. As if teetering on the tips of her fingernails. She looked into Magda’s face through a gap in the shawl: a squirrel in a nest, safe, no one could reach her inside the little house of the shawl’s windings. The face, very round, a pocket mirror of a face: but it was not Rosa’s bleak complexion dark like cholera, it was another kind of face altogether, eyes blue as air, smooth feathers of hair, nearly as yellow as the Star sewn into Rosa’s coat. You could think she was one of their babies.
517: “Without complaining, Magda relinquished Rosa’s teats, first the left, then the right: both were cracked, not a sniff of milk. The duct-crevice extinct, a dead volcano, blind eye, chill hole, so Magda took the corner of the shawl and milked it instead. She sucked and sucked, filling the threads with wetness. The shawl’s good flavor, milk of linen.
It was a magic shawl, it could nourish an infant for three days and three nights. Magda did not die, she stayed alive, although very quiet.
“I’ve been homeless for six years now. If there’s such a thing as an effective homeless man, then I suppose I’m effective. Being homeless is probably the only thing I’ve ever been good at. I know where to get the best free food. I’ve made friends with restaurant and convenience-store managers who let me use their bathrooms. And I don’t mean the public bathrooms, either. I mean the employees’ bathrooms, the clean ones hidden behind the kitchen or the pantry or the cooler. I know it sounds strange to be proud of this, but it means a lot to me, being trustworthy enough to piss in somebody else’s clean bathroom. Maybe you don’t understand the value of a clean bathroom, but I do.”
“I took my grandmother’s regalia and walked outside. I knew that solitary yellow bead was part of me. I knew I was that yellow bead in part. Outside, I wrapped myself in my grandmother’s regalia and breathed her in. I stepped off the sidewalk and into the intersection. Pedestrians stopped. Cars stopped. The city stopped. They all watched me dance with my grandmother. I was my grandmother, dancing. ”
” You did not tell him but you wished you were lighter-skinned so they would not stare so much. You thought about your sister back home, about her skin the color of honey, and wished you had come out like her. You wished that again the night you first met his parents. But you did not tell him because he would look solemn and hold your hand and tell you it was your burnished skin color that first attracted him. You didn’t want him to hold your hand and say he understood because again there was nothing to understand, it was just the way things were.”