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They are not up for a vote. If reading the various historical acts above doesn't convince you of that, then I'm not quite able to penetrate the walls of your pretty sugar castle surrounded by a moat of chocolate pudding. So how does this continue to happen? This, to me, is a bit like using unicorn lore as a basis for legislation. Your religious beliefs are your own, but do not use them to take away the rights of others. God is not our President. He is not a Congressman from North Carolina.
You mean a "demand" for equality?
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And if the Bible is to be invoked, then let me invoke First Corinthians, They bantered and playfully bickered as married couples are wont to do. Theirs is a true marriage and it made me happy to be in their presence just as it saddens me to think that there are people who would work against their happiness. And to what end? To what purpose? In a world in which senseless, horrible acts take place every day, a world in which children go hungry, families can be blown up in market places, and a teenager can be shot and killed over a bag of Skittles—why, why, why would you legislate against love?
I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights. I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.
I like to think that you cannot stop love. This morning, I made a contribution to the Human Rights Campaign. Writing stories set in the past can be exciting and educational for a writer. So many facts to spout at parties! Bore your friends and complete strangers! Have the fondue station to yourself!
There's melted cheese here! Seems simple enough, right? I opened my paragraph with a mention of the sound of the wheels on the rain-slicked streets. Hmm, I thought. Are they listening to the rain or to the radio—oh wait. There was no car radio in , was there? My fingers twitched over the keys. Just go on with the story and fix that point later , I scolded myself. I scold myself often. I am a Scoldilocks. I really needed to sink in and feel, see, hear, and smell that scene. And to do that, I needed to know everything about this car from the s on this rainy night in New York City.
Off to Google I went. In the early s, they were manual. This does not seem like much fun to me, and I am already thinking about hair and humidity issues. Anyway, I spent a good twenty minutes on this one small moment for two sentences in what will probably be a page novel. Do the math. This is why I don't get out much. I corresponded with Colin Gale , the archivist there, who directed me to some wonderful resources. It was while reading these interesting case histories that I came across something truly extraordinary: Bethlem Royal Hospital hosted periodic dances open to the public.
You read that right—they opened the doors of the asylum to the public for a dance. It was believed that such social activities were important for the well-being of the patients. By the late 19 th -century, treatment of the mentally ill at BRH was much kinder than it was in the horrific days of the 18 th -century when it earned its nickname. I was able to have the patient, a young woman named Nell, deliver vital information to the girls in a rather theatrical way in a public forum.
Plus, it was a criminal amount of fun to write. Why so much attention to detail for a throwaway moment? True Maybe because God is in the details, as they say. Also true. Sadly, true. But also, I really want to know for myself, because it helps me become a part of that world if I know the limits and the possibilities.
But it is what David Levithan calls it to make me giggle. This was the second question brought up by this one sentence I was trying to write. You always want more than one source. Do you feel neglected? While I sleep, are you secretly scratching at furniture and gnawing up plastic bags, leaving detritus all over the house to show your displeasure at my having ignored you?
I am sorry, blog. Both hysterical ladies, they are. My stomach muscles hurt from laughing, blog. We had amazing events at Books, Inc. The booksellers were so wonderful, and they put on great events. We got to hang with some cool peeps: booksellers, librarians, teachers, bloggers, readers. People came out! They bought books! They gave me Swedish Fish and regaled me with delightful stories!
It was terrific, blog. Really, I would have taken you with me if I could have. I did get you a Dr. Who Ood decal from etsy, though. I was supposed to turn in Book 1 on July 1st, which would be…oh, my goodness…today! So, so, SO funny? Do you see me laughing? No, I am TOO laughing. Or rocking. Or petting the walls. Not at all. And anyway, those things are all a prelude to laughter! To the joy I feel at knowing just how behind I am! Who likes a sense of danger, huh? Do you, blog? Do you like that feel of falling rapidly through the air wondering which little pulley is the ripcord for your parachute?
I know—I think so, too. Oh, hold on, I need to breathe into this paper bag. Calm now. And dizzy. Which is like calm but wobblier. With the hope of passing out. So now this book is due September 1st, which is like July 1st if you squint and have no sense of the Gregorian calendar. In the meantime, can you do me a solid? Can you let peeps know that I will be making the following appearances:. Archer www. Oh, blog. I promise to be better to you. More to come soon. Hope peeps can make it to one of these events.
It would be great to see you. Blog thinks so, too. More like limping while dragging a large slab of beef wrapped in chains. I have not, to my knowledge, ever limped down a street dragging a side of chained beef behind me. I hate this part. And on the run back, you knew, as you passed each mailbox and streetlight marker, exactly how much more you had to run and it felt hopeless.
There was just the steady rhythm of your breath and your feet striking the pavement. Very Zen. Thing is, in a first draft, you really should just let it rip and worry about fixing it later. He was great. Like now. You still have to push through that middle mile and make it home. Does this happen to you? What does that inner critic say? What do you do to get past it? I welcome your suggestions. It began to wheeze and fill up at the top with brown water and refused to drip actual coffee into the carafe.
Consequently, he starts to eat in order to fill this feeling of emptiness. Admirable man! Richard has heard the anecdote from her mother, who wanted to emphasize that her relatives were bizarre and peculiar. Hence, by deciding to kill himself by eating, he becomes a victim of the story concocted by his mother. According to Ellen Friedman, the trope of the oedipal father is often claimed to be the basis of storytelling, and invoked in explanations of culture.
He emphasizes the importance of the identification with the father which takes place before the Oedipus complex as the primary identification. Using a case of a male child as an example, Freud explains 38 Faulkner , One of the often-cited theorists, who offer father and the Oedipus as basis of all narratives, is Roland Barthes. See Barthes , On the persistence and mutations of paternal narratives, see de Lauretis , —57; Booth , — The Oedipus complex is later resolved positively in a boy if he intensifies the identification with the same-sex parent, the father, and gives up the mother as a love-object.
In a way, Richard is caught in the oedipal crisis, and he regresses to the oral phase. His oral fixation is most apparent in his desire to eat himself to death. To put it simply, his decision to eat himself to death is connected to his obsession about his mother. The protagonist of Lady Oracle, writer Joan Foster, is a habitual overeater.
Her problems trace back to a problematic relationship with her disapproving mother. Joan refuses to accept her own past, and lives in a constant state of duality. She also keeps creating new identities in order to cope and to please others. Similarly, Richard Everett has a troubled relationship with his mother, which he tries to overcome. Moreover, as a woman writer, who struggles with a divided identity as a woman artist, Joan resembles Natashya in many ways. He, for example, confesses that after years of 40 Freud b , 31—2.
Freud underlines, however, that his description represents a simplification of the Oedipus complex, which is far more complicated. Freud b , See Freud , How can you describe a creature that is lodged forever in your brain? One day he goes to the library to read stories written by his mother. The reading of the stories causes him anxiety, because her being a writer does not fit his fantasy of a mother: Without her writing she would have been just Nada in the kitchen, Nada in her bathrobe, Nada on the telephone, Nada here, there, hugging me[.
It's as if I had opened a door and saw Nada as she really was, a stranger, a person Father and I did not know and had no connection with. EP, 42 Wesley , Even his psychiatrist, Dr. Saskatoon, does not believe him, because it does not fit the Freudian model of the Oedipus complex. According to this Freudian psychiatrist, Richard loved his mother so much that he could not believe anyone could have killed her except himself.
Through the protagonist-narrator Richard, who is hyperbolically captivated by the culturally entrenched narratives, Expensive People draws critical attention to the submission to the fantasies that lie behind American obsessions about familial relations, psychoanalysis, generations, and national origin. Firstly, he identifies with the noble relative invented by his mother, determined to follow his example of eating himself to death.
Daly suggests that by 43 Cf. Daly , Daly , 36—7. As Daly brings out, this is just one example of the parody of the psychoanalytic discourse in the novel. Waller , ; Daly , In the end, it is the mother, who indirectly destroys her own creation. Her novel does not simply deride the prevailing cultural narratives regarding immigrants but, by emphasizing the role of the mother, also draws attention to the gendered nature of the discussion about immigrant generations, which still in the s was discussed on the father-son continuum.
Firstly, she wants to secure her position in the racial order, which is somewhat ambivalent because of her working- class past and gender. By emulating a certain, normed suburban style, she 46 Daly , See, for example, Lauret , ; Radstone , ; Loudermilk , The story was published independently in The Quarterly Review of Literature earlier in the same year Like the young girl in the story, whose position is revealed as problematic in relation to the dominant cultural order, Natashya also has difficulties in relation to the norms of gender, class, and race by the surrounding society that determine her position as an upper middle class white woman.
In the following analysis, I will pay more attention to the meaning of race in the story. In my view, the story presents a racial fantasy, which is connected to the theme of white female identity and its constitution. Most often, they occur in relation to white female characters, which are going through a crisis or a certain phase of development. Recognizing Stranger The story tells about an unnamed white girl, who recalls an incident from her childhood when she was six years old.
In her recollections, she goes down to a creek where she meets a stranger, who is, according to her description, a black man. She recalls the same memory three times. Each recollection adds new significations to her memory. French poststructuralist thinking e. Lacan, Derrida, Laplanche has used the concept and expanded it. That is, as the subject recalls memories of the past events, he or she inadvertently revises these events and gives them new significations. Hence, memories are not simply representations of past events, but rather, revisions constituted in the present.
The perspective is that of a child, although at the time of recalling the incident the narrator is older than six years. All versions are told mainly in the first person and in a present tense that creates an effect as if the narrator is reliving the events when reminiscing about them. The first version of the memory strives to represent the encounter in a way a six-year-old might experience it.
Oates was probably not consciously writing to a white audience, but her choice of constructing the perceptive as that of a white female is, nevertheless, deliberate. At first, she does not refer directly to his racial difference. In other words, as the girl recognizes the man as a stranger, she, at the same time, constitutes herself. Next, she compares the 58 Ahmed , He left his hat back on the bank. His hair is funny. He must have been out in the sun because his skin is dark.
He is darker than Tommy with his suntan. The realization rests on an ideology that sees certain bodily features as marks of racial difference. The fears are connected to a certain cultural myth of the black man as dangerous, and as a sexual threat to a white woman. Black Man as Sexual Taboo As the girl is playing by the creek the man starts asking her questions, such as, does she live close by, how old she is and so forth.
The questions 60 Mercer , Henceforth, the narration alludes that the man might be a child molester. He also asks if she would like to have another daddy, and suggests that he could be this other daddy. In so doing, he is temporarily taking the position as a father figure to get closer to and have authority over the girl. From this point on, race and sexuality are persistently intertwined in the narration.
The white child, in contrast, seems to remain both raceless and asexual. Thus, the characters create opposite poles of an adult, black, sexual, male and a child, non-racial, asexual, genderless. The construction of a close linkage between race and sex is a form of white anxiety that descends from a certain historical context of racial discourses.
Many scholars have noted that it was the Europeans, who first made the linkage between race and sex and eroticized people from other continents. The stereotype evolved in the seventeenth century in the colonial period, when English settlers founded colonies in British North America. The first Africans were brought to the colony of Virginia in They became indentured servants, who, in principle, could earn their freedom.
The racial-based slavery, however, was quickly 63 See, for example, Jordan , 33—40; Roberts , 10—11; Nederveen Pieterse , —3; Jahoda , 31—2. It was at that time that European white men created the black man as a sexual taboo. The so- called captivity narratives represented a story line where cruel Indians abducted a frail white woman or her children.
As in the captivity narratives, white women were represented as weak and powerless. The criminals were almost exclusively African Americans, and virtue and moral superiority was always attached to white people. The title pages of the narratives often combined race, some kind of sexual degeneracy and sexual violation, which was also a means of selling the books.
It aimed to prevent sexual relations between black men and white women, to control the social status of black men and to maintain white supremacy. Later, after the Civil War, as the Thirteenth Amendment officially abolished slavery as a legal institution, the racist myth of black man as a rapist was used as the justification for the lynching of African American men from the Reconstruction period into the twentieth century. Again, the sexualization of the black man was allied with the safeguarding of white supremacy.
Thomas Dixon Jr. In addition, it fuses two sexual taboos together: miscegenation and pedophilia. In American literature, the miscegenation taboo often intersects with the incest taboo. The presence of the miscegenation has to be unraveled in relation to the significance of the racial problematic in the U. For a century until the civil rights movement, American religious activists and politicians argued that God 70 Wiegman , 95—6. On the sexualization of the black men in the Southern Reconstruction politics, see also Fredrickson , —82; Hodes , — 8, —; Hale , —4; Nagel , —5.
The novels, situated in the antebellum South, promoted ideas of white supremacy. The argument served to reproduce white supremacy. The motivation behind most miscegenation laws, which outlawed interracial marriages, was not so much to limit the sexual relationship between white men and black women, but to protect white women and ensure the purity of the white race.
First, he tries to develop a friendship with the child. Second, he offers her a gift, licorice, which he promises to give her if she lets him wash her. The licorice alludes, again, to his race. Yet, it remains uncertain, if the black man is a child molester, as the composition of the story hints that the narrator might have added the sexual undertones to her memory afterwards. Although the narration conjures up the stereotype of the black man as rapist, the white girl is not physically violated; at least she is not giving such details in her narration. The girl is pleased by his attention as he sits and watches her closely.
Nothing else happens, except that he gives the girl her reward, the licorice stick. As he hands it to her, he repeats that she should never tell anybody about him or what happened by the creek. The first part of the story ends as the girl leaves the creek. The first anti-miscegenation statutes are from the seventeenth century. For the history of anti-miscegenation laws, see Pascoe ; Saks ; Kennedy For example, she sporadically interrupts her narrative by referring to the present moment or comparing the time of the memory to the time that has come after.
In the second version, as she first sees the strange man, she has a shivering sensation, a feeling of danger. He reminds her of a man who had drowned in the creek.
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I know what a colored man is like. This one has a light brown skin. At the same time, the realization of his skin color imbricates with a feeling of danger. The narrator mentions specifically that the man has light brown skin. A closer look at the significance of the skin color is necessary here, because it seems to be a threat to the narrator. Nonetheless, it evokes the old fears about hybrid bodies, and, once again, about miscegenation.
In the second version of the memory, the description of the man is allied with ambivalent feelings. His eyes are funny. The eyelid is sleepy and would push down to close the eyes, except the eyeball bulges too much. When he breathes his nostrils get small and then larger. I can almost see the warm air coming out of him, mixed with the smell of licorice and the dark smell of his skin.
The imagery reminds of the visually represented racial caricatures with exaggerated facial features: bulging eyeballs and big teeth. Moreover, the man is associated with an animal through a comparison with dog. His bestiality is further stressed by the image of warm air streaming out of his nostrils. Although the story 78 For example, in the nineteenth century, the discussion about the mulatto as a hybrid referred to a biological mixture of bodies and blood. In this discussion, the term mulatto had pejorative meanings. In the twentieth century, the terms mulatto and hybridity gained new significations, and became much more neutral.
On the use of the terms, see Young , 6—12; Sollors , —35; Edwards , See Edwards , 3. At home, the mother notices traces of licorice on her teeth, and demands to know who has given it to her. Finally, the daughter admits that it was a man by the creek. Racial Fantasy The third part of the story is the shortest. The focus is now on the consequences of the encounter. In her dream, or rather, in 80 Tuhkanen , He asserts that he is going to be her new daddy and approaches her forcefully: He touches me with his mouth, and then I can feel his teeth and his tongue all soft and wet on my shoulder.
In most cases, psychoanalytic discourse has tended to ignore questions concerning race. Nevertheless, as psychiatrist and philosopher Franz Fanon insists in his Black Skin, White Masks , which analyzes the effects of racism and colonialism, the racial other has been present in the psychoanalytic discourse as an unconscious obsession to the white mind.
According to Riviere, the woman created her fantasy to avoid anxiety about powerful father figures. Accordingly, Riviere argues 81 Fanon , Fanon refers to the fantasy familiar to him from the works Helene Deutsch and Marie Bonaparte, who both worked closely with Sigmund Freud and theorized on female sexuality. In addition, he offers the girl liberties to do things her parents would not let her do, such as, letting her walk in the water with her shoes on. Yet, Walton also notes that to perceive the black man as a father figure in the fantasy may be read as endowing the black man with a position of power that had been historically denied from him.
As I have already mentioned, Wesley does not consider the significance of racial difference in the context of the story. In my view, the encounter with the black man should be considered in relation to the culturally specific miscegenation taboo. Consequently, the encounter between the white girl and the black man epitomizes not only a transgression of the incest taboo through the symbolic incest, as Wesley interprets, but also a transgression of the miscegenation taboo.
The prohibition of miscegenation has had a more altering significance in American history than the incest taboo. The legal prohibition of interracial marriage was called into question after the Second World War. The process of overturning the anti-miscegenation laws was initiated in by the case of Loving v. Commonwealth of Virginia. The child emerges as a subject through the symbolic order and, at the same time, assumes a sexual position in relation to the primary signifier of the phallus. See Lacan , — The girl becomes a victim already by the end of the second recollection of the incident, as the mother makes her own conjectures about what happened by the creek.
It seems now that the parents are the molesters to which the title of the story refers. As the father enters the room, where the mother is trying to soothe the distressed daughter, the gendered division in the family is underlined. Here, the father is associated with the inspecting gaze. After the parents have gone out of the room, the narrator overhears them arguing. She tells how she once heard them arguing about 90 Walton , Yes, I can remember it. I can remember some face. They are trying to remember what that nigger did to me. EP At this point, the black man, kicked in the face by a white male police, the representative of the law, becomes a victim.
What is noteworthy is that the black man may not even be the same man who was by the creek. This is suggested by the fact that the narrator does not remember his face. It could even be that he was later re-signified as black by the narrator. Even if he was the same man, the girl does not remember what he did to her. The position of the white girl is parallel to that of the black man, because the white adults, particularly the white father, do not take into consideration their accounts of what happened.
In the end, the white father has the decisive power to determine how things are signified, while the white girl and the black man share a powerless position in this regard. That is, the shared position is a denied position as a speaking subject in a master discourse, owned by the white male. The white male power culminates in the physical violence against the black man by the white trooper. It does not only refer to the past, but reflects the situation at the time of the writing.
Hale , This racial violence is reflected also in literature written by white authors. Nine black teenage boys were accused of raping two white girls. Eight of the defendants were sentenced to death. For more on the Scottsboro cases, see, for example, Murray Through the embedded themes of symbolic incest and miscegenation, the story draws attention to the rules that regulate the sexual relations and sexuality of white female in American culture. Walton considers exogamy and endogamy in the context of colonial, European, and U.
This resistance is uttered through the symbolic transgression of two social laws regulating kinship relations. Generally, the rules of exogamy prohibit marriage between relatives of near kin, while the rules of endogamy require that marriages should be contracted within particular social groups due to social norms. What counts for near kin or particular social group varies in different cultures. The function of the incest taboo is to institutionalize exchange- based relations between families, especially between men representing patrilineal clans.
The taboo is a rule that secures the exchange system in which women, the mother, daughter or sister, is to be given to others as a gift. Campbell , 14, passim. I agree with Tim Dean, who points out that Butler generally eschews the Lacanian idea of desire, and in so doing, neglects the potential it may offer for the theorization of sexuality. Butler does this every time she postulates that the Lacanian account and its conception of desire is dogmatically heterosexist. Although the question may seem irrelevant at first, it becomes more pertinent if we remind ourselves, once again, of the ways in which race and sexuality have been produced together in the cultural and historical context of the U.
She argues that the legal construction of interracial heterosexuality concerns both the history of sexuality and race. Through a careful historicizing of the miscegenation analogy, Somerville shows how the categories of race and sexuality were produced and constructed in relation to one another particularly in juridical and legal discourses during the s and s.
If the racial fantasy is considered as a transgressive pattern, it challenges all cultural injunctions against non-normative sexual choices, not only those concerning interracial hetero sexual relations. In other words, the anti-normative, As Somerville notes, this period encompasses shifts both in the legal status of interracial marriage and simultaneous criminalization of homosexuality in U.
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Somerville , A homosocial network is a logic of male relations that requires a woman in a mediating position. In so doing, the short story offers a narrative that aims to transgress and challenge the existing cultural taboos and myths that regulate individuals as gendered, racialized, and desiring subjects. The story also demonstrates the rigidity oedipal scenario, which promote particular postulations for how gendered and racialized subjects are constituted. As Toni Morrison argues, African American characters have not been represented as actual characters in American literature, but rather, as Africanist presences serving different functions.
According to Morrison, Africanist presence frequently reflects the contradictions of white identity. In a way, his presence offers the white girl a possibility for defiance and transgression. The white Morrison , This kind of theme, where a white character especially a white woman is in conflict with the community and its expectations, and is accompanied by an enigmatic black character, who appears as a presence instead of fully developed character, has appeared and studied especially in Southern fiction. Moreover, the story confirms how the process of racialization, or the appropriating of the significance of racial difference, includes a stereotyping of the African American other.
The use of stereotypical images of black men in the story evokes the history of the black-white relations in the U. In the first two versions of the memory, it is questionable whether the story aims to criticize racialization, and the arrangement of social relations based on it. In so doing, the story illustrates the damaging effects of racialization and gendering and draws critical attention to the white male power within American society.
Following the representation of white females in both narratives, I have demonstrated how the significance of race and ethnicity in these stories is rooted in American cultural narratives about family and nation. Although Expensive People, a satire of white suburban middle- class, criticizes in various ways American society, its founding myths and the normative discourses of gender, class and race, its approach to race and ethnicity remains ambivalent.
In the beginning of the s, Oates starts to portray effects of race on the society and constitution of American identities more directly. The novella tells the story of a white woman, Edith Margaret Freilicht, born in What she knows about Edith is based on the rumors and gossip of relatives and local people. Dissatisfied with her marriage Calla has a defiant relationship with a black man around The 1 It should be noted, however, that Oates already addresses racial issues directly in her Miracle Play, published in In the end of the s and in beginning of the s, she wrote plays that also attend to racial issues such as Black and Negative reprinted in a drama collection The Perfectionist and Other Plays, As Cologne-Brooks observes, Oates commonly focuses in her plays much more sharply on racial issues than in her novels.
Cologne-Brookes , On the other hand, it may be that the writer felt obliged to wait until the s to be able to reflect the racial issues from a white point of view. Moreover, the task of returning to the racial past was easier to take in the wake of African American writers, such as James Baldwin, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, and Toni Cade Bambara, who had shaped and established the American literary convention that critically observes the social conditions of the white society and its racialized practices. In particular the black women writers returned in their works to past in order to find insights to the present.
In addition, the beginning of the s was the time when the discussion about whiteness became topical. As a fictional re-visit to the changing construction of history, her novel demonstrates how fiction offers space for diverse perspectives in the form of a narrative that prevents a fixed story about racial practices of the past.
The novel introduces four families, each of which represents a different social position. The central focus is on the white girl, Iris Courtney, who belongs to a working class family that strives to embody middle class status. The other central character, a talented basketball star, Jinx Fairchild, comes from a working class African American family.
Iris and Jinx attend the same high school and hope to continue their studies in college. Their chances to realize their plans are difficult, although not equally so. Their opportunities in life in the age of Jim Crow differ from each other considerably because of race.
The different viewpoints and experiences of the characters give insight into the practices of looking as a complex arena of power. In the following analysis, I will scrutinize how looking and being looked at are represented in the novel as fundamental to the construction of identities. The starting point of my analysis bases on the concept of gaze, especially on the re-conceptualizations and revisions of the concept. Lacan has conceptualized the gaze as a signifying visual order in which the subject comes into being and is defined. Taking the example of Panopticon design for prisons, Foucault explains how modern society exercises its controlling systems of power and knowledge through visibility.
Mieke Bal finds the Lacanian gaze a useful concept in analyzing the ideological charge of the subject-position. Iris, who is named by her mother after the iris of the eye, learns to see things through a certain set of norms that produce visual order. The boys in suits, white shirts, neckties. Are these the sloe-eyed boys Iris sees in the park, the boys she knows she should be wary or avoid? These skins like cocoa…milk chocolate…bittersweet chocolate. A darkish purple sheen like the sheen of fat Concord grapes.
In Because It Is Bitter, Oates aims to examine the problematic of black-white relations more explicitly and critically. This is discernible, for example, in the above excerpt, as a deliberate implication about the significance of African Americans to the constitution of white identity. The comparison of the skin color to shoe polish on leather implies the meaning of black people as a mirror for the white identity.
In addition, black people function throughout the story as a mirror to Iris as she constitutes her identity. She also constantly reinvents herself in this ongoing process. But we do. In her view, white people know how to behave and have civilized manners. Her relatives use different words for black people that echo various levels in the discourse of race. What is more, the way they use the words exposes their social position, which varies according to gender, class, or generation.
BB 23 By listening to adults, Iris learns the white attitude: the importance of making the difference between the white self and black other. What confuses Iris is that she is also taught not to use words that sound derogatory or vulgar. This is linked to her speaking position as a white girl and to the rules concerning white females of a certain class.
The gendered rules, intersected by class and race, are highlighted in the narration by a contrast between Iris and her father. As the excerpt suggests, the rules for men are less strict, and they seem to allow more space to transgress the implicit codes and rules of class and white race. As the narration deliberately underlines, the knowledge Iris has learned from her father and girlfriends affects how she relates to black people and, simultaneously, how she presents herself.
The knowledge of black men as dangerous has its roots deeper in the history of the black and white relations in the U. Her attitude is enforced not only by the social situation of the Jim Crow era, but also by the past, American racial history. She runs to a nearby store where she knows Jinx works, and asks for his help. As Jinx walks her home he gets into a fight with Little Red, who accidentally dies during the fight.
Jinx dumps his body in the river, where it is found by the police. The realization of her social position as white and thus privileged is not entirely a conscious process. She feels guilty initially, because she cannot tell anyone about what happened. Hence there is no reconciliation, which would free her of the guilty feelings. Secondly, she feels guilty, because she is the one who had asked Jinx to protect her: I'm the one. I'm to blame. Not you. He would not be treated fairly. It may be that both guilt and shame are present here, and it is not possible to distinguish between them.
She has violated the law against concealing the death of another person, and thus committed a misdemeanor. That is, she is guilty of doing something. Because the reason for the concealment is related to the injustice of racial segregation, she becomes conscious of her racial privilege. At this point, her self-identification as white causes a feeling of shame, which she experiences in relation to the unearned privilege of whiteness.
This is fundamentally a question of identity, of what she is. Tomkins , Referring to Silvan Tomkins, Ahmed emphasizes that a feeling of shame entails that the subject is interested in the other. All three films relate to a situation in which whites hold power in society, but are materially dependent upon black people.
Furthermore, whites are aware of this dependency. A negative affect evoked by the awareness of whiteness or its privilege may generate a productive process towards anti-racist thinking or anxiety and anger. Nevertheless, the negative affects connected to racial issues are a complex matter; an awareness of why is not simply followed by a change of attitude or a process towards affirmative thinking. The affects generate a process, which may take unpredictable turns, depending on the varying components and circumstances involved in the situation.
See also Tomkins , —5. That is, the social hierarchy is not represented merely as a racial division of power between white and black people, but also between people of different genders and classes. Nevertheless, the feelings Iris identifies in relation to her white skin are related to the question of white privilege. She is not so aware of her dependency of Jinx.
Unlike Jinx, who misses his chance to go to college because his career as a basketball star ends, Iris is able to go continue her studies although her family cannot finance them. She is successful in school and wins a scholarship. Jinx, in turn, drops out of school, gets married, and works in a factory. I love you, I would die for you. You are the only real thing in my life. BB 23 Dyer , She offers to take the empty wine bottles to the kitchen, where no guest is welcome. Savage leads Iris vigorously back to the dinner table.
In the party of self-assured upper class white people, Iris identifies with black people, whose lives seem more real to her. This is related, again, to her shame about being white. In general, white people tend to conceptualize non-white cultures as more authentic and natural. This may occur in historical and political conditions, where white identities are in crisis.
This comes apparent also in the representation of the Thanksgiving dinner. At the dinner table, Iris is continuously asked about her origins. This is discomforting to Iris, who methodically tries to hide her lower class past. To prevent any further questions, she tells that her mother has died, which is also true. As the other guests murmur words of sympathy, Iris feels a sudden wave of nausea and excuses herself from the dinner table.
Her first attempt to enter the upper class white world causes her a crisis, which is expressed in her nostalgia and longing for black people. She will later resolve her crisis by re-constituting her identity to fit better into the upper class white world. The narration represents through Jinx the experience of the effects of the white gaze. He understands that whites study him as if he were not even a specimen of sorts but an entire category.
It implies that the subject does not always just 26 du Bois , 3. That is, he pretends to assume the image offered by the gaze as a kind of shield to protect himself. He neither submissively succumbs to the white gaze nor gives himself to be seized by it in a particular way, in relation to preexisting stereotypical images of black athletes, but, indeed, adopts an active role and assumes an agency, although a limited on.
In the s, when the segregation in team sports started slowly to diminish especially in the North, some white colleges and universities allowed blacks in their teams. In the context of the novel, Jinx plays in an interracial high school team. The college scouts and recruitment officers have noticed Jinx, and everyone expects him to be picked to some good college team, which would simultaneously offer him a possibility for a college education. His career, however, ends abruptly as he breaks his ankle on a basketball court.
You think they give a shit about you? Near the end of the novel, Jinx enlists as a private in the U. Moreover, they had, at least ostensibly, the same opportunities for military service as whites. In the early phases of Vietnam War, military service was seen as an opportunity, a chance for social and economic advancement. Thus, African Americans were enlisted in the forces twice as much as whites. The old myth of black inferiority was dismantled, although it was replaced by new stereotypes of African Americans.
Jinx asks Lester to give a copy of it to Iris. As Iris sees Jinx in the photo, she is overwhelmed; she feels weak and her eyes sting with tears. His formal and stiff posture in the photo 32 Creighton , Silverman suggests that although a pose, through which the subject gives himself to be perceived in particular way, is generally assumed as something deliberate, the subject posing is only partly capable of control. His pose and his note behind the photograph express both his control over his image as well as his powerlessness within the cultural situation of the Jim Crow era.
Ultimately, there are only a limited number of positions available for African American men under the white gaze. Secondly, his note signals his ability to become detached from the culturally accepted roles for black men. Even to pass as an African American within the society dominated by white supremacy, Jinx has to play a certain part or role in order to be recognized, and through recognition, to belong to a certain social group, and to the nation.
As David Jacobson reminds, the idea of nation-state has amalgamated the geographic, communal, and political dimensions of belonging that they seem indistinguishable. Moreover, the sense of belonging, an affectively comprehended perception, is for Iris and Jinx a significant determinant of identity; it entails a feeling of knowing who one is within certain conditions. Ultimately, the need to belong concerns the status of citizenship, and possessing the social rights granted by the citizenship.
In the context of the novel, the status of citizenship is intertwined mainly with race, class, and gender. Iris is more determined in her quest for belonging inasmuch as she has the access to the idealized white image supported by the dominant cultural gaze. That is, she is capable of belonging to the community of whites that epitomizes American citizenship.
Yet, her feeling of belonging has also to do with a sense of place. That is, as she moves from her hometown to Syracuse, to new and unfamiliar surroundings, her feeling of belonging diminishes, and she has to adjust to the new situation. Jinx wants equally to belong, but as an African American, belonging does not automatically bring him the same rights as for Iris.
John F. Kennedy opening the White House to Martin Luther King […], united with the black man to change the cruel face of the United States forever! I got a dream too! I got my rights and I got a dream too! BB On the one hand, Jinx cannot resist his need to follow the dominant ideal of male citizenship and to identify with it.
In particular, his character illuminates the racial inequality in relation to the regulated frames of identity constitution in the Jim Crow era. Secondly, his view emphasizes the power relations involved in the gaze and the possibility of resistance, even though a limited one. Whiteness as Unattainable The novel contests the truth of vision by drawing attention to the relation between seeing and knowing. The narration refers to some kind of transformation in her way of seeing. This happens as she is still living in Hammond, and attending to high school.
Once, as she is waiting to meet Jinx in a restaurant, she starts questioning her way of looking at things: […] Iris wonders can you always trust your eyes; the process of vision is a sort of photographic process, and photography always lies…the one clear truth Lesley Courtney has taught her. No visual truth, only inventions. Here, in this place Iris has come perhaps wrongly to trust, it seems that the edges of things are too sharp, too emphatic.
BB The metaphor of the camera emerges frequently in the narration.
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She becomes aware of the fact that the meaning of vision is produced within the dynamics of social power and ideology. This is because she cannot fully separate herself from the meanings that rely on the cultural and historical context and her lived knowledge of those circumstances. After moving to Syracuse to start her university studies, Iris begins to erase her painful past. As she becomes acquainted with the Savage family, she is painfully aware and embarrassed by her working class past, and works hard to keep this from Savages. Like Jinx, who cannot resist the idea of joining the army in order to belong, Iris never turns down an invitation from the Savages.
Savage starts to invite Iris frequently to her home for family dinners, and Iris accepts her invitations with gratitude. At the same time, 39 Daly , She is not comfortable with these people, who seem not to be aware of their privileged position. Magnifying their happiness to them. And do I mind? Quite soon, however, she starts to mimic the manners of the Savages, especially those of Mrs. In the process of developing and constructing a new self as an upper class white woman Iris learns to deploy the common perceptions of how body is understood to carry visible signs on its surface.
She starts to perform her new identity through her bodily appearance under the eyes of the Savages. Savage plays an important role here; if Iris is approved in her eyes, she feels she has succeeded. Iris has learned from her uncle Lester some things about the nature of images. For example, Lester has once remarked: 40 Dyer , An absence, he said, but there. BB 57 Iris has to work hard to attain a norm-like whiteness; she gains it by adapting a position of camera-like observer, who seemingly controls how things are seen.
The photographic action associates itself also with the Foucaultian idea of surveillance, a discourse of mastering and regulating the subject. Iris seems to think that she controls her feelings and the image of herself, but the narration implies that this kind of total control is not possible. For example, at the Thanksgiving dinner Iris does her best to control herself.
The dinner ends up embarrassingly for her, as she suddenly has to hurry from the table to the bathroom to vomit. Why she escapes to a black neighborhood remains vague. Instead, it is the feeling of dislocation within the white culture that draws Iris to the black neighborhood. When Iris hears the news, she sits in American literature class at the University. The campus and the inner city is a space occupied by 42 Creighton , She imagines how Mrs.
Savage will be grieving for Kennedy. Next, she runs to Dr. Nevertheless, the office door is shut, and she feels she has nowhere to go. At this point, Iris feels dislocated among privileged white people. Again, she starts to think of Jinx. She feels tired and light-headed, and her vision starts to blur: Everything has begun to turn soft, to blur, time too has become soft; you blink to bring your vision into focus but this is focus, this is world…not evil but madness.
This could indicate that she is gaining a new awareness and understanding. This is proven by her feelings of guilt and shame, which emerge whenever she starts thinking of Jinx. Her feelings are partly the reason why she cannot let go of Jinx, why her obsession with him continues. The incident is described in the narration in flashback.
Iris is in the hospital emergency room, and she cannot explain to the police or the doctor why she was walking alone at night in a black neighborhood. Iris claims that she did not see the face of her attackers, but admits that they were black BB What has happened is that a group of drunken young black men has driven by, as Iris wanders in an empty street.
One of the boys asks if Iris is looking for a ride. As Iris murmurs no thanks and turns to walk in the opposite direction, the men stop the car, block her way, and drag her into the car. Iris panics, starts kicking and screaming BB What exactly happens after this is not revealed at this point. The above-mentioned description ends the third part, after which follows the epilogue. She decides to marry Alan Savage. Her decision has to do with her desire to belong to the family and to feel safe, but also to leave her past behind for good. She also sweeps away all her memories about Jinx, because he reminds her of her past life, which includes guilt and shame.
Whether she is able to do this remains uncertain. We know you. Again, Iris thinks she can have a total control over her mind and feelings, which is, as we have seen, not possible. She is feeling safe because the Savages, a close family circle, accept her. Moreover, as Daly suggests, she does not marry Alan because she loves him, but because she loves his mother, Mrs.
Whiteness, really white whiteness, is unattainable. She keeps over-valuing whiteness even though she learns to see the social hierarchy in terms that are more complex. The process of adjusting to her new role does not come without difficulty.
Is "Love and Vertigo" mainly a novel about whiteness or a novel about immigrants?
The dress has to be altered for Iris several times because she keeps losing weight. Her pleasure is connected to the idea that she has accessed a flattering corporeal image of an upper class white woman. As she looks at her mirrored reflection, she asks Mrs. I agree with Daly that Because It Is Bitter can be interpreted as an act of resistance against the privileges of class, gender, and race.
The protagonist, Iris Courtney, is constituted as a subject that is complexly embedded in socioeconomic, socio-cultural, and psychic interrelations. As any racial category, also whiteness proves to be a changing category, which can be re-invented and reproduced. Like Iris and Jinx, the liminal female characters have taken different paths of life. Clare is passing for white and marries a white man while Irene, also light- skinned enough to be able to pass as white woman, marries a wealthy black doctor.
Neither of the characters is outside the necessity to pass in order to belong. They are similar 49 Daly , Primarily, the limits have to do with race and gender, two social differences that are most dependent on a visual articulation. Although the truth-value of the camera image has been contested, we are still inclined to perceive the photograph as an unmediated copy of the real world. In Because It Is Bitter, and Because It Is My Heart Oates deploys the metaphor of the gaze as a photographic action, and reflects the myth of photographic truth in questioning the dialectics between truth and appearance in negotiating social relationships.
Focusing on the fears of both the white woman and the black man, her novel represents various sides of the visual field, and complicates the notion of the gaze. It illustrates how the ways of seeing the other are affected by the ideological condition of visibility. In understanding how the dominant visual order constructs identities and realizing that all images have an ideological intent makes space for the possibility of taking a conscious distance from the dominant images.
Since the beginning of the s, however, she has portrayed characters representing an array of different social classes and positions. The early novels follow, partly, the American realistic and naturalistic literary conventions of representing poor whites initiated by Stephen Crane and Theodore Dreiser, and developed into depictions that are more symbolic by John Steinbeck. Millions of people migrated from the drought areas to the west, mainly to California. Waller argues, to reach the subjectivity and inner motives of the portrayed characters instead of a simple comprehensive description of the events and reality.
For example, A Garden of Earthly Delights concentrates more on the development of individual characters than on the social phenomena of migrant workers in the age of depression in general. At the age of fourteen, she runs away from her family, and starts her life anew. Without education and sufficient income, Clara is dependent of men throughout her life. Yet, she works actively to find her ways to survive.
In contrast to Arnow, Oates does not focus as straightforwardly on strong female characters in her early fiction, as Arnow does. Steinbeck made efforts to meet the migrant families in their camps to learn their stories. Before writing his novel, he also wrote several newspaper articles about the migrants. See Reef , 1—6. Consequently, the Garlocks are for the most part seen as a stereotypical representative of a poor white family.
Some of the stories in Heat and Other Stories, first published in , complement the representation of the Garlocks by considering more transparently the contradictory and problematic relations between whiteness and privilege within contemporary American society.
In the following, I will continue my analysis of the novel Because It Is Bitter focusing now on the representation of the Garlocks. In the latter half of the chapter, I will examine the representation of poor white women in two short stories in Heat. They appear dislocated in Hammond, especially as they violate the codes of behavior and implicit rules of the neighborhood community. For example, Little Red Garlock is said to enjoy behaving badly and transgressing rules just enough not to get in trouble with the police.
Other members of the large Garlock family also behave in ways that are disapproved by their neighbors.