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Author: Nora Apt

Ghost or reincarnation?

On Beloved page 61, Morrison describes Sethe, Paul D, and Denver’s return to 124 after their time at the carnival. As they approach the house, a woman with “new skin, lifeless and smooth, including the knuckles of her hands” sits near the steps. This imagery parallels that of a newborn. Once Sethe views the woman’s face, her “bladder [fills] to capacity” and immediately needs to use the restroom; however, Sethe can’t even hold it until she gets there as “the water she voided was endless.” This illustration remembers water-breaking. Morrisons use of symbolism suggests rebirth, perhaps this woman is linked to Sethe’s dead child. Specifically, the assertion that “there was no stopping water breaking from a breaking womb and there was no stopping now” further alludes to this relationship.

The woman tells Sethe, Paul D, and Denver that her name is Beloved. This revelation serves as additional evidence for some form of a connection to Sethe. As days go by, Beloved’s attachment to Sethe becomes apparent as “Sethe was licked, tasted, eaten, by Beloved’s eyes” (68). This toddler-like, possessive behavior from Beloved suggests dependence like that between a mother and her small child. Moreover, Beloved seems to know about Sethe’s crystal earrings that Sethe no longer owns. Strong evidence suggests that Beloved is a reincarnation of Sethe’s child. If this is the case, and so long as Beloved stays at 124, Sethe will continue to grapple with moving forward from her traumatic past.

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The Power of Acts of Solidarity

Langston Hughes’s “Night Funeral in Harlem” describes the funeral of a poor man. Lacking funds to pay the insurance company, the man’s insurance coverage was terminated. As such, insurance did not fund his funeral. The “poor boy’s” friends and girlfriend pooled together money in order to ensure the man had a proper memorial. This action conveys love through sacrifice; individuals contributed their own money to properly pay homage to their friend. The final line of the poem notes “It was all their tears that made That poor boy’s Funeral grand.” This description reflects the idea that material goods do not outweigh feelings of love. The “poor boy’s” community stands and acts together in solidarity.

This poem made me reflect on recent events in the United States and how communities come together in solidarity in light of them. For example, approximately one month after the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas, various organizations and activists arranged for El Paso Firme: an event in effort of standing up against white supremacy. The event was held in a local El Paso park; however, the town of Buffalo, New York simultaneously held a rally and march to demonstrate solidarity with El Paso Firme. This gesture serves as a reminder that in the aftermath of an atrocity, communities can band together to find strength.

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The Influence of Popular Culture

The article, “Leadership, Culture, and Social Change,” defines the terms “culture,” “popular,” and “popular culture” respectively. These explanations hold significance as the article uses this terminology to explain the significance of the phrase “popular culture” with respect to societal conflicts and social change. Rather than simply categorizing popular culture as “vulgar entertainment,” the article encourages individuals to recognize its value to society as a whole. Popular culture has the ability to prompt introspection. Moreover, popular culture calls attention to present societal and political issues. The article describes the positive correlation between a work of popular culture’s audience size and influence: the larger the audience, the larger the possible impact. Using Uncle Tom’s Cabin as an example, the article reiterates the negative consequences of writing off popular culture as entertainment; Uncle Tom’s Cabin illustrates the atrocities of slavery and serves as a call to action. The article concludes by revealing “a profound disconnect between what influences us the most and what we identify as influential” (Bezio, 2018).

The quotation above directly relates to a discussion I had in my Theories and Models class last Thursday. Dr. Goethals described a social science experiment that he conducted regarding attitude change and memory. The study found that individuals’ perspectives on a particular social justice issue were altered by their peers. As a result, individuals with changed standpoints were unable to correctly recall their previous opinion on the matter. These findings parallel the aforementioned disconnect as individuals in the study were unable to recognize the influence that their peers had on their perspective. This evident disconnect reveals that individuals in our society must begin to recognize what impacts us the most; specifically, starting to recognize popular culture and our peers as influencing agents.

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The Complex Relationship Between Money and Leadership

Isaac Butler’s “Did Richard II Provoke an Elizabethan Rebellion?” examines the influence of Shakespeare’s Richard II on the second Earl of Essex and his men. The day before the Essex’s rebellion against Queen Elizabeth, some of the Essex’s men organized and paid for a performance of a play. Most likely, the play was Shakespeare’s Richard II which recounts the “usurpation and murder of an unpopular ruler” (Butler, 2018). In addition to a fee for service, Essex’s men provided the actors with additional compensation. Despite the fact that Butler postulates this extra money accounts for the play’s unpopularity, this act demonstrates the men’s support of the play’s central message. Furthermore, the gratuity given to the actors highlights the relationship between money and leadership. Money influences individuals, and leaders can use this to their advantage. Although the men’s decision to commission the play was not corrupt, Richard II arguably contains ideas that fueled their rebellion against Queen Elizabeth. In this scenario, monetary reward served as a tool of affirmation.

This discussion parallels the controversy surrounding donations to political campaigns by CEOs’ of corporate America. Specifically, a CEO’s financial support to a political candidate and subsequently their platform. Most recently, the chairman of the parent company that owns both Equinox and SoulCycle, Stephen Ross, hosted a fundraiser for President Trump. Subsequently, both companies received tremendous backlash from their consumers who interpreted Ross’ act as affirmation of these companies of President Trump’s politics. This recent situation suggests that the relationship between leadership and money remains complex.

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