Passage for Essay 2

Well, that’s the way it was. Nobody counted on Garner dying.
Nobody thought he could. How ’bout that? Everything rested on Garner
being alive. Without his life each of theirs fell to pieces. Now ain’t that
slavery or what is it? At the peak of his strength, taller than tall men, and
stronger than most, they clipped him, Paul D.
First his shotgun, then his thoughts, for schoolteacher didn’t take
advice from Negroes. The information they offered he called backtalk and
developed a variety of corrections (which he recorded in his notebook) to
reeducate them. He complained they ate too much, rested too much, talked too
much, which was certainly true compared to him, because schoolteacher ate
little, spoke less and rested not at all. Once he saw them playing–a pitching
game–and his look of deeply felt hurt was enough to make Paul D blink. He was
as hard on his pupils as he was on them–except for the corrections.
For years Paul D believed schoolteacher broke into children what Garner
had raised into men. And it was that that made them run off. Now, plagued by
the contents of his tobacco tin, he wondered how much difference there really
was between before schoolteacher and after. Garner called and announced them
men–but only on Sweet Home, and by his leave. Was he naming what he saw or
creating what he did not? That was the wonder of Sixo, and even Halle; it was
always clear to Paul D that those two were men whether Garner said so or not.
It troubled him that, concerning his own manhood, he could not satisfy himself
on that point. Oh, he did manly things, but was that Garner’s gift or his own
will? What would he have been anyway–before Sweet Home–without Garner? In
Sixo’s country, or his mother’s? Or, God help him, on the boat? Did a whiteman
saying it make it so? Suppose Garner woke up one morning and changed his mind?
Took the word away. Would they have run then? And if he didn’t, would the Pauls
have stayed there all their lives? Why did the brothers need the one whole
night to decide? To discuss whether they would join Sixo and Halle. Because
they had been isolated in a wonderful lie, dismissing Halle’s and Baby Suggs’
life before Sweet Home as bad luck. Ignorant of or amused by Sixo’s dark
stories. Protected and convinced they were special.
Never suspecting the problem of Alfred, Georgia; being so in love with
the look of the world, putting up with anything and everything, just to stay
alive in a place where a moon he had no right to was nevertheless there. Loving
small and in secret. His little love was a tree, of course, but not like
Brother–old, wide and beckoning.