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DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Favorite Passages?

I loved that line too - so descriptive!


chris227 wrote:

 

p 110 when Benji is talking about the customers that come into Johnni Waffle "Remember Whensters lumbered in with their musty catalogues of the bygone, dragging IVs of distilled nostalgia behind them on creaky wheels"

 

 


 

 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
Inspired Scribe
IBIS
Posts: 1,735
Registered: ‎11-22-2006

Re: Favorite Passages?

The “Not walking down the street carrying a watermelon”  on page 87-88 is a passage that resonated very personally with me … this section made me relive bittersweet memories of my teenage years as a Cambodian-American immigrant in Boston during the early 80s.. 

 

My ethnic community leaders kept a tight rein on teenage willfullness. They believed that we lived under the shadow of pernicious Western cultural influences…  everyone in our community waged daily battles against the seductiveness of American consumerism. We were encouraged to be counter-cultural… to be foot soldiers in a cultural war against the forgetting, and eventual abandoning of our native Cambodian culture. 

 

I was drafted to fight in a cultural war that I knew I could never win.

 

I appeased traditional paternalistic biases… in public, I obediently walked BEHIND all the male members of my family… I quietly ate my meals AFTER the male members had been served…  I NEVER questioned the decisions made by male family members.

 

Like Benji who needed to appease his father’s perceptions of African-American pride, I needed to appease an entire generation of Cambodian immigrants whose “perceptions”of our Cambodian culture heavily outweighed its realities.

 

Benji and his friends forged their self-identities within African-American cultural communities; I had to forge mine in an Cambodian-American one.

 

Although our communities were very different in both distance and culture, we discovered that we had to mine the treasure...  the gold of our self-identities... within ourselves... 

 

Like Benji, I found out that the colors of our skins are never a proxy for who we truly, genuinely, are.

 


Maria_H wrote:

 

I think all ethnicities and races have their own standards to avoid giving people reason to think "Aha!  I knew that's what they do!"  Whether it is their speech, or visual cues, or behavior.  I have witnessed plenty of these among my own that have made me cringe. 


 

 

IBIS

"I am a part of everything that I have read."
Scribe
DSaff
Posts: 2,048
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Favorite Passages?

Great post, Ibis. I especially like the last line, "Like Benji, I found out that the colors of our skins are never a proxy for who we truly, genuinely, are." Thanks for sharing.  :smileyhappy:


IBIS wrote:

The “Not walking down the street carrying a watermelon”  on page 87-88 is a passage that resonated very personally with me … this section made me relive bittersweet memories of my teenage years as a Cambodian-American immigrant in Boston during the early 80s.. 

 

My ethnic community leaders kept a tight rein on teenage willfullness. They believed that we lived under the shadow of pernicious Western cultural influences…  everyone in our community waged daily battles against the seductiveness of American consumerism. We were encouraged to be counter-cultural… to be foot soldiers in a cultural war against the forgetting, and eventual abandoning of our native Cambodian culture. 

 

I was drafted to fight in a cultural war that I knew I could never win.

 

I appeased traditional paternalistic biases… in public, I obediently walked BEHIND all the male members of my family… I quietly ate my meals AFTER the male members had been served…  I NEVER questioned the decisions made by male family members.

 

Like Benji who needed to appease his father’s perceptions of African-American pride, I needed to appease an entire generation of Cambodian immigrants whose “perceptions”of our Cambodian culture heavily outweighed its realities.

 

Benji and his friends forged their self-identities within African-American cultural communities; I had to forge mine in an Cambodian-American one.

 

Although our communities were very different in both distance and culture, we discovered that we had to mine the treasure...  the gold of our self-identities... within ourselves... 

 

Like Benji, I found out that the colors of our skins are never a proxy for who we truly, genuinely, are.

 


Maria_H wrote:

 

I think all ethnicities and races have their own standards to avoid giving people reason to think "Aha!  I knew that's what they do!"  Whether it is their speech, or visual cues, or behavior.  I have witnessed plenty of these among my own that have made me cringe. 


 

 


 

DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
My blog: http://bookworm56.blogspot.com
Inspired Contributor
mapleann
Posts: 44
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Favorite Passages?

Favorite passages:

 

"All answers contemplated the end, the death of summer at its very beginning" (p. 2). I am already doing this for summer, and it is presently -20 outside now--summer hasn't even arrived.

 

"we knew where our neighborhood began because that's where the map ended" (p. 18). Metaphorically, each generation faces this. Their parents' map ends and the teens must learn to navigate off the map.

 

"Over the years I have learned that the sunrises and sunsets of that beach are rare and astonishing but I did not know this then. Sunset meant that the damned gnats were coming out, that was it" (p. 39). How often does the youth appreciate what they've got? This really aged the narrator for me. He had to old enough to realize--definitely 30+ I think.

 

"It was unmistakable. Everybody was faking it" (p. 66). Duh.

 

 

"His face had that expression I've seen many times, when I'm walking down the street and there's a white person sitting alone in a car The look on his face was the one they always get before they lock the car doors. Click, click, click up the street as I pass. We were in South Hampton" (p. 236).  I sadly admit I just did this a few weeks ago with my kids in the car when a homeless person, with a sign saying he would work for food, started approaching the car at an intersection. Okay, he didn't really approach, but walked by displaying his sign. The guilt of the occurrence. This passage brought back the incident, not that I haven't done it before in Detroit, Toledo, or Nashville too, but the one in Fairbanks, AK was most recent."click, click, click."

 

 

"I was part of a deadend tribe of humans beings twiddling our thumbs for extinction. We picked the wrong line in supermarkets, sitting like bags of cement with our meager foodstuffs in our basket, counting and recounting to make sure we had less than ten items, and when we finally resolved to swithch to the faster line, it was too late and now that was the slow line. In fact, the act of us joining that line made it the slow line" (p. 250) Haven't we all been there?? Whitehead does such an amazing job of capturing moments, those relatable moments.

Contributor
wisterialeigh
Posts: 9
Registered: ‎02-22-2009
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Re: Favorite Passages?

[ Edited ]

One of my favorite passages was on page 94 and 95 when Martine comes out of the back room and says, "Great job, Benji, those are some real cones you got there." and he patted me on the head. Two bounces."

 

He immediatedly reacts..."stiffens" and NP is alarmed..."his jaw drops"

 

The incident leads to a discussion of racism and patting your head..."like a pickaninny". Benji thinks of the slave master relationship and the field niggers and how the master would "pet his property". 

 

Colson Whitehead writes "He will pet his property and pet is the correct verb, for these are animals before him."  This is a powerful statement and shows how ingrained the racism of our historical past is still lingering in a big way today. 

 

I found Benji's reference to inappropriate "Fro-touching" an appropriate phrase. Think about it. I wouldn't want people touching my hair at anytime. Would you? Yet I have witnessed this happen often. 

 

 

Message Edited by wisterialeigh on 04-12-2009 11:56 AM
Wisteria Leigh