March 2020 ~ All About English Literature

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Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Would you consider Arthur Miller's, "The Crucible" as a Modern Tragedy?

Would you consider Arthur Miller's, "The Crucible" as a Modern Tragedy?

The crucible is a modern tragedy written in the Context of a historical incident of Salem’s witchcraft (I7th century) but the play highlights the cruelty of McCarthyism and communists trails in America in 20th century.

The play contains almost all the spicess of a modem tragedy. Though it is quite different from other tragedies as it brings forth a story of historical importance, yet the protagonist of the play John Proctor, shares a lot with a modern man. Miller has blended intellectual, social, moral and psychological problems of a modern man in the character of Proctor.


There are many arguments whether this play is a tragedy or not. The left hand critics declare that The Crucible is not a tragedy as it does not fulfill all the conditions set by Aristotle, that the protagonist should be a royal birth and the centre of attention of everyone as it was common in the plays of Sophocles and Shakespeare to be able to arouse the feelings of pity and fear associated to a tragedy. But this accusation does not hold much strength as in the world of today kings and Princes are not present with similar pomp and show. So, the presentation of a royal figure would be unrealistic and fictitious. Moreover, modern man is not confronted with supernatural elements like the heroes of classical plays. Rather today man is at war with society to have dignified and respectable position in it. Now everyman is a centre of his own attention. The basic problem of modern man is to determine his Place in his surroundings. So the concept of tragedy should be changed according to the requirements of time and age. Thus, a modern tragedy is a tragedy of a layman because a modern man is layman. So, modem tragedy is a tragedy of everyman.
Arthur Miller stands head and shoulders high among the modern American dramatists. He keenly observes the conflict between the aims and objectives of an individual and his social surroundings, and beautifully presents these conflicts in his plays. In this play he presents the image of a guilt-ridden man.

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John Proctor is a common countryman, a farmer by profession. He is respected for his uprightness and fear for his sharp dealing with hypocrites. The writer says that in his presence, “A fool felt his foolishness instantly”. But Proctor also holds guilt on his name. He has been sexually involved with a girl, Abigail. Proctor is deeply repentant on his sin of adultery and betraying his wife. Elizabeth. He cannot come out of this guilt till the end and feels that his salvation is not possible, and that he cannot climb up the altar steps with the dignity of righteous people. Considering his statement to Elizabeth:
“Let them that never lie, die now to keep their souls. It is a pretence for me a vanity that will not blind God nor keep my children out of the wind.” 
But he reaches a dignified position through proper decision in the end. Thus the attention of the playwright is on the moral choice of Proctor. Though he is a sinner, yet he is a man of good conscience.
It is also to be noted that in Miller’s plays the catastrophe rises from some sexual sin. In fact, he wants to enhance the importance of family life, if the rules of marriage are not abided by, the downfall is sure to come in one or the other way. Miller says:
“I cannot live apart from society”.
He thinks that moral honesty cannot be separated from a commitment to the society. Though a man and environment do not merely interact, yet they are the part of each other- a fish is in water and the water is in fish. Miller implies this dictum to every human being and proves it through his protagonist that every person has to live in harmony with his surroundings.
Proctor has been presented as a rebel of society leads a life of Isolation - partly because of his shame and partly because of his stubborn manner and this isolation and becomes his flaw. At first, Proctor denies the importance of society stays away from the trials of witch hunt and even during his trial takes selfish decision to save his life. But later, he has to accept that he is nothing without his surroundings. He realizes what he owes o his neighbours. He knows that his acceptance of being a witch would greatly demoralize the people and they would not fight against this brutal act:
“I blacken all of them when this (my confession) is nailed to the church the very day they hang for silence.”
Miller presents self discovery of his protagonist within all the action of the play. The self quest of Proctor begins when Elizabeth repeatedly pleads him to judge him. He has lost faith in his goodness and needs some outer action to invoke him to a certain decision. But when Elizabeth pushes him to take his decision and then he asks for divine help and cries out:
And soon he gets the answer. In the final moments of his life he realizes that he has not yet lost all of his virtue for at least he knows his responsibility towards his neighbours. He utters:
“I do think I see some shred of goodness in John Proctor”
On a broader level, The Crucible, is also a social tragedy. Miller describes how innocent people are mercilessly convicted and murdered in order to save an ideology. By the time of the setting of the play, Puritan’s church and government was losing control over individuals. This is because of the corruption of priests, presented by Parris in the play. The weirdly vanity and hellish sermons of such priests take people away from the church. So church has an ever increasing fear of losing authority over the masses of people and this fear actually the root cause of such wide spread bloodshed. Thus Puritan church and government make desperate attempt to hold people in their grip by using a quotation of Bible which says:
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How far the Title of Arthur Miller's Novel, "The Crucible" is justified?

How far the Title of Arthur Miller's Novel, "The Crucible" is justified?

Initially called The Chronicle of Sarah Good, The Crucible is a dramatization of the Salem Witch trial. Arthur Miller uses the title of his play The Crucible as a Metaphor constantly throughout the text. A crucible is a container used to heat metals at a high temperature so the metal can be cast, often using intense pressure to do so. Crucibles are often also used to remove impurities from a substance, so that only the pure matter remains. The relevance of the title is apparent in many of the themes and issues of the play, and is demonstrated through striking imagery and the actions of characters that Miller portrays to us.
The relevance of the play’s title becomes evident during the first act, as we gradually piece together the information concerning the girls dancing. The kettle viewed by Reverend Parris, a argumentative and unreasonable man in his middle forties, mirrors a crucible. We are told that the girls had made a brew that contained a little frog and blood. This concoction was viewed by the characters involved as a potent, fearsome mixture and this signifies the beginning of the Salem tragedy. It seems that from this ‘brew’ a more sinister force is released, or metaphorically speaking, the impurities are released due to the aid of a crucible.
The dancing and the contents of the little pot seem to fuel the rumours, lies and tragedy of Salem. Suspicion soon engulfs the community and the little privacy that once existed suddenly shatters. Privacy was quickly interpreted to mean that people had some terrible fault to hide and there was an intense pressure for neighbours to reveal each other’s sins. Here is evidence of how the play’s title is reflected in the actions and words of the characters.
In fact, Reverend Parris makes an ironic comment that is closely linked with the The Crucible:
Reverend Parris: Why, Rebecca, we may open up the boil of all our troubles today because in the end the witchcraft investigation provokes the burning down and destruction of the community. “
Here The Crucible is once again used metaphorically to illustrate characters beliefs. The use of such words as ‘boil’ and ‘burning down’ are directly linked with the image of a crucible at work.
The witch trials are also metaphorically a crucible for people’s grudges, and their seeking of revenge. The play shows us also how people can give into their fear and superstition. Salem quickly turns into a melting pot of suspicion and vengeance with nearly everyone trying to pull power out of the pot. The witch trials provided an avenue to bring hostilities out into the open in a theocratic society that had little opportunity for speaking out.
The trials are not really about witchcraft. Abigail Williams, a strikingly pretty seventeen-year-old orphan, admits to John Proctor, a well-respected farmer in his mid thirties, how the witchery is a hoax:
Abigail:         We were dancing in the woods last night and my uncle leaped out on us. She took fright, is all”.
Furthermore, the relationship between Abigail and Proctor is highlighted using imagery connected to the concept of a crucible. The relationship, based more on lust than love, is one that Proctor dearly regrets and that constantly plays on his conscience. Heat and fire can be used as symbols that are strongly connected with a crucible, and Miller uses this symbolism cleverly:
Abigail:     “… you clutched my back behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I came near!”
And later,
Abigail: “I have a sense for heat, John … and I have seen you … burning in your loneliness.”
The relationship can be likened to the concept of a crucible because it represents the high temperatures and reactions that take place in a crucible. The relationship between Abigail and John is shown in great contrast with his wife Elizabeth, a cold and unforgiving woman. The relationship between John and Elizabeth is cold, distant and tense, with no passion or fire. However, despite his feelings of passion for Abigail, Proctor realizes that he must not succumb to them again. This decision effectively ends their relationship and extinguishes the heat between them.
Fire and heat is used as a symbol once again in Act Three. The Crucible metaphor is illustrated in the play when Judge Danforth, a strict judge with a strong belief in authority, says to Proctor,
Danforth:  We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment”.
The court scenes were times of tension, intensity, pressure and conflicts between powerful authorities refusing to realise they have signed away innocent lives on the strength of a lie. Also things are permanently and physically changed in a crucible, when they are turned from one thing into another. This is reflected in the play by the fact that many characters in the play are exposed to high pressures during the trial. This pushes many characters to the limits of reason and changes them mentally, physically and spiritually.
Another parallel between the word crucible and the play is the fact that a meaning of the word crucible is a severe test or trial. When John Proctor is convicted of witchery he wrestles with his conscience about whether he should confess or be hanged. His internal conflict between the opportunity to protect himself at the expense of others weighs heavily on his mind, but he chooses the ultimate sacrifice – his life. He asks his wife towards the end of The Crucible:
Proctor:  Would you give them such as lie? You would not; if tongs of fire were singeing you, you would not.”
This makes it evident that Proctor recognises his own shortcomings and once again conjures the image of fire that is closely related to a crucible. Miller also uses the text to make connections between Salem and Hell.

Proctor:  A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! …. And we will burn, we will burn together!”
Here Miller makes the ultimate connection between the play’s title The Crucible and the society he is portraying. The intense heat and pressure of Hell is also present in a crucible, and both can be associated with the hysteria and suspicion of the people in Salem during the witch trials.
The obvious relevance of The Crucible can be found at the very core of the text. A crucible can be used to separate and discard impurities the in a substance – in effect, that was the essence of the Salem witch trials. In an attempt to separate the ‘good from the bad’, many respectable and virtuous people were hung due to the mass hysteria and pressure caused by ‘The Crucible’ of the times.
By reflecting his play’s powerful and effective title throughout the text, Miller prompts his audience to apply his metaphor to other situations in history. It was most certainly Miller’s own experiences during the ‘communist hunt’ of the 1950’s that provoked him to write this play. Miller saw the parallels between the McCarthy era and the Salem witch hunts for what they really were – a crucible. Severe trials held in an attempt to separate the good from the evil, the pure from the tainted. Through his text, he shows the frailty and vulnerability of human nature by showing how hypocrisy and hysteria can lead to times of suspicion and instability. He leaves us, his audience, to make our own judgement about similar periods in history and to ask ourselves the question – Is it possible, or even predictable, that this situation will ever occur again?
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Monday, 30 March 2020

Analyse the Character of Abigail Williams in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible" or Discuss Why Miller calls Abigail Williams "the prime mover of Salem hysteria"?

Analyse the Character of Abigail Williams in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible"

Miller says that the “structure” of The Crucible “centres on John, Elizabeth, and Abigail.” Reverend Parris’s niece Abigail has been dismissed from service by Elizabeth Proctor after she found out the illicit affair between Abigail and her husband seven months ago. Since then Abigail has been living with Parris. But she still lusts for Proctor and, by involving his wife in the rampant rumored practices of witchcraft in Salem and getting her hanged, she plots to become Proctor's wife. She thus orchestrates the behaviour of the girls who follow her blindly in raising the bogey of witchcraft and by involving several innocent citizens in the witch hunt. Her motivation is a blend of private vengeance and desire. She proves that people's terror could be manipulated to meet her own selfish ends.

Abigail Williams, Reverend Parris's seventeen-year-old niece and antagonist of the play, is a "strikingly beautiful girl ... with an endless capacity for dissembling". The sexual repression of the times drives Abigail and a group of teenage girls to secret outings in the woods, where they dance naked. When Parris spies them, guilt and fright cause two of them, Ruth Putnam and Betty Parris, either to pretend or experience catatonia. Betty lies mysteriously ill and Parris is worried because Doctor Gregory has failed to diagnose the cause of her illness. News spreads fast, hymn-singing villagers crowd the parlor below, and Reverend Hale arrives, summoned as an expert on witchcraft. But Abigail tells Parris, "It were sport, uncle!" When her accomplices Marry Warren and Mercy Lewis arrive, Abigail bullies them into submission. Later as the girls are questioned, Abigail, to clear her own name, accuses, as a tool of the Devil, Parris's black West Indian slave Tituba.

She keeps up the pretense that her name is "good", it is not "soiled", and there is “no blush" about her "name". She was dismissed by Good Proctor, "a gossiping liar" and "a bitter woman, a lying, cold sniveling woman" because she refused to "slave" for her. As for her not being able to find a job after that, she loftily declares:

“They want slaves, not such as I. Let them send to Barbados for that. I will not black my face for any of them.”

But she stands “as though on tiptoe, absorbing his presence, wide eyed", when John Proctor enters. She had a brief affair with him seven months ago when she worked as his housemaid and was dismissed by Elizabeth Proctor when she discovered it. She entreats John, “Give me a word, John, a soft word. A brief exchange between them reveals Abigail's desire for John, her hatred for his wife Elizabeth, and her determination not to resume the relationship. She reminds him:

“I know how you clutched my back behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I come near! ... I saw your face when she put me out, and you loved me then and you do now!”

He has also been standing below her window for the past seven months at nights and looking up, "burning in your loneliness". Proctor reluctantly admits that:

“Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I'll ever reach for you again.”

But she persists. Bursting into tears, she tells him, “I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart!...You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet! ... John, pity me, pity me!”

Her past illicit relationship has driven a wedge between John and his wife; she still does not trust him. She believes, and rightfully so, that Abigail has raised the bogey of witchcraft in order to accuse her and get her hanged so that she can take her place in John's life and household. Elizabeth wants her husband to go and tell Ezekiel Cheever, the tailor turned warrant officer of the court.

The second scene in Act Two, deleted from the published text, reveals more about both Abigail and John. Abigail's opportunism has been evident since the opening scene, when she deflects to Tituba Hale's questions. She is amoral, with no concern for the good-hearted servant, whom she herself asked for a charm but whom she now denounces as a witch.

The change in Abigail is apparent to proctor, as she tells him, “The jab your wife gave me’s not healed yet”, referring to the disproved needle in the poppet.

While John’s conscience suffers for his adultery and for jeopardizing Elizabeth’s life, his guilt can only be intensified by Abby’s outburst as she vows, “Oh, John, I will make you such a wife when the world is white again.”

She then starts shivering and pretends that Mary Warren has sent her spirit in the form of a yellow bird up to the ceiling of the court room and that she is frozen by the cold wind. Touching her hand, Judge Hathorne confirms this. The other girls also start seeing the yellow bird on the ceiling which has come to attack them, and they are equally terrified. So is Danforth as Proctor keeps protesting: “They're pretending!" Mary Warren is so affected by the shivering girls that she appears to have been hypnotized. She starts pleading: "Lord save me! ... Abby, don't do that!" She becomes hysterical and rushes toward the door as Proctor tried to hold her. So strong is Abigail's malevolent influence that she ends up by retracting her testimony and accusing Proctor of practising witchcraft on her as Abigail looks up and cries, "Oh, Heavenly Father, take away this shadow!" Proctor is taken aback at this sudden turn of events. He roars at her: "How do you call Heaven! Whore! Whore!"

Danforth is "dumbfounded” but Abigail coolly tells him that Proctor is lying. He then confesses to lechery and charges her to falsely accusing his wife of witchcraft and getting her hanged.

Proctor is supported in her display of hysterics by Reverend Hale, who is by now disgusted with the court proceedings and who eventually quits the trial: “1 believe him! ... This girl has always struck me as false.” Abigail again whips up the hysteria of being attacked by the yellow bird on the ceiling. The others join her and start screaming. John Proctor is proclaimed as “the Devil’s man”, arrested and eventually hanged for practising witchcraft on Mary Warren.
The last we hear of Abigail is when a crestfallen Proctor informs Danforth that Abigail has robbed him of 31 pounds and fled with Mercy Lewis. Opportunistic to the last, she provided for her sea trip by breaking open his strongbox and decamping with nearly his half-year’s salary. In the epilogue we are informed: “The legend has it that Abigail turned up later as a prostitute in Boston.”

Sometimes literature throws us a bone in the form of a really awesome antagonist. Someone we hate ... but find totally magnetic. Someone who chills us to the core ... but we can't stop watching. Abigail Williams is vengeful, selfish, manipulative, and a magnificent liar. This strikingly beautiful young lady of seventeen years old seems to be uniquely gifted at spreading death and destruction wherever she goes. She has an eerie sense of how to manipulate others and gain control over them. She is the pebble that gets the avalanche of the Salem witch trials started. She sends nineteen innocent people to their deaths. These things make her an awesome antagonist.
In addition to being an accomplished liar, Abigail is also extremely single-minded. When she wants something, she goes for it; if one method doesn't work, she's happy to go with Plan B. A good example of this is Abigail's pursuit of John Proctor. Because Abigail wants John Proctor for herself, she gets Tituba to make her a potion to kill Goody Proctor. When that doesn't work, she pleads with John to take her back; when that doesn't work she accuses Elizabeth of witchcraft and manages to get her arrested.
An easy, surface explanation of Abigail's character is to label her as a calculating sociopath, and there is some evidence that supports this claim. In Act 1, Abigail does seize upon the opportunity to divert blame from herself to first Tituba and Ruth, then just Tituba, then to women with questionable reputations like Sarah Good, Goody Osburn, and Bridget Bishop. She doesn't care at all about the fates of the women being blamed - she's just accusing them to further her own ends. 
For Miller, Abigail, says David Levin, is “a vicious wench who not only exploits her chance to supplant Elizabeth Proctor when the time comes, not only maintains a tyrannical discipline among the afflicted girls, but also sets the entire cycle of accusations in motion for selfish reasons”.
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Character Portrayal of John Proctor in Arthur Miller's Play, "The Crucible"

Character Portrayal of John Proctor in Arthur Miller's Play, "The Crucible"
"John Proctor stands unique amongst Miller’s creation not because of any inherent superiority but because of the intensity of his moral response."
In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, John Proctor is the central character and the protagonist of the play. Miller gives very delicate touches in digging the subtle ties of Proctor’s relationship with his wife, Elizabeth and Abigail. Miller also shows very skillfully Proctor’s attitude towards Puritans, witchcraft, court and toward his friends in the end when he was going to be punished for being a witch.
Although, Proctor is the central figure yet he has been idealized as a hero. He is a blunt, stubborn countryman, though not excessively sensitive yet capable of being tender, especially towards women According to John Mahonery:
“The attention of the playwright is on Proctor’s moral choice.”
Miller, himself, says in his introduction of the play that he wants to draw the image of ‘a guilt ridden man’ who has a sense of guilt that he has betrayed his wife, Elizabeth by playing adultery with Abigail, who is a very cunning fraudulent girl. And this guilt forces him to take positive action at the right moment and consequently suffers a great loss of his life.
Then Proctor is a practical fanner, struggling to manage living for his family. He is a physically strong man, cool tempered and not so easily provoked. He emerges as a down-to-earth man who speaks his mind and is not afraid in confronting those in front of the authority - the authority of society, priest and the court. Only his guilt of all with Elizabeth keeps him indecisive till the very end.
John Proctor is also good independent minded Christian who is fed-up from dogmatic and the strict values of the church only in order to maintain their authority. He also does not care his infrequent presence in church. He openly condemns Parris and his greedy and hellish Sermons. It is Parris’ hellish preaching which prompts John Proctor to stay away from Church and explain his absence as follows:
“1 have troubled enough, I come five miles to hear him preach only hellfire and bloody damnation.., others stay away from church these days because you (Parris) hardly ever mention God anymore.”
He is an honest man and sees himself as a sinner and unworthy to follow the martyrs like Rebecca and Giles.
Proctor never interferes with the affairs of others. Miller gives his social views that man can’t isolate himself from the trials of community, society, and the man, who refuses to be committed to some cause, will face tragic result. If a man is to be a part of society, he must function and participate in all the aspects of society.
Proctor tries to avoid any involvement in Salem witchcraft trials. He is afraid of the disclosure of his secrets of adultery with Abigail which was probably no more than a moment of passion prompted by the impetuosity and it also characterizes many of his other actions and speeches.
John Proctor retains a very strict attitude towards witchcraft. He does not believe in it and takes it as an irrational act. He does not want to be involved in the court probe about witchcraft but at the end he has to do so. When he learns that Elizabeth has been accused, he says:
“Is the accuser always holy now? Were they born this morning as clean as God’s fingers? I’ll tell you what’s walking in Salem vengeance. We are what we always were in Salem but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom and comfort vengeance writes the law!”
But in the end, we see that Procter is accused of being a witch because of his rebellion against the church and the court. He wants to prove the fraudulent behaviour of the girls but he is accused in return. He is sentenced to death if he does not confess to be a witch. At first, because of the pressure on him he becomes agreed to confess and signs it but his innocent soul does not let him to confess, therefore, he tears out confession. He says:
“Because it is my name! Because I cannot have another in my life! Because I am not worth the dust on the feet of them that hang! How may I live without my name? I have given you my soul; leave me my name.”
He does not want to lose his true identity and to be called a witch. Therefore, he sacrifices his body and saves his soul.
Once Proctor abandons the society at its own, but society does not let him maintain himself in the critical junctures of his life. He remains in a critical and complex situation of hope and fear and life and death. He remains caught up in a web of moral dilemmas woven by society. He requires an enormous moral courage to make right choice, the choice which makes all the difference, and we see that Proctor chooses his soul. This is what Miller wants to tell us. He says: 
“My central impulse for writing at all was not the social but the interior psychological question.
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Sunday, 29 March 2020

19 Important Short Answer Type Questions & Answers from Toni Morrison's "Jazz"

19 Important Short Answer Type Questions & Answers from Toni Morrison's "Jazz"
 “Don't ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I didn't fall in love, I rose in it.”
                                                                    ― Toni Morrison, Jazz

Here are few short questions and answers from Jazz that might help you:

1.What is the symbolic significance of the title 'Jazz'?
Ans. Jazz is called Jazz because it is structured on a little musical form called ... Jazz. The novel has alternating character voices that act like solos, repeating refrains that keep it flowing in one general direction, a feeling of dissonance and harmony at the same dang time -- all of which are attributes of a musical form called Jazz.

2. Tell with reference to Jazz, what is Harlem Renaissance?
Ans. The Harlem Renaissance was the name given to the cultural, social, and artistic explosion that took place in Harlem between the end of World War I and the middle of the 1930s. During this period Harlem was a cultural center, drawing black writers, artists, musicians, photographers, poets, and scholars.

3. Why was the Jazz music called the devil's music?
Ans. The reason why jazz was called "the devil's music" was because "Jazz" used to be a slang word associated with sex. Also, jazz originally came out of the brothels. So the more "wholesome" members of society did not want anything to do with it.

4. What is the effect of Jazz on the lives of poor people?
Ans. Music is an art, entertainment and medicine for the soul and body. It is intrinsic to all cultures. Jazz was invented by Blacks and made for the poor people. Faced with racism, discrimination and segregation, the poor black people have always found comfort and a sense of peace in Jazz music.

5. Define feminism.
Ans. Feminism is a range of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.

6.  Interpret 'Don't ever think I fell for you, or fell over you. I din't fall in love, I rose in it.'
Ans. This line is from Toni Morrison's novel "Jazz". In this line, Joe Trace addresses Dorcas directly in his imagination. Dorcas is already dead, but his is explaining how he felt and still feels about her. He does not regret the relationship because he freely chose it.

7. Interpret 'When they fall in love with a city, it is forever and it is like forever.'
Ans. The context here is the arrival of Joe and Violet in Harlem in 1906, when they arrived as part of the great migration north of black people, who were escaping the racism of the South. They all fell in love with Harlem as a place where the possibilities for them seem endless. So their love for Harlem will last forever.

8.  Interpret 'A son ain't what a woman say. A son is what a man do.'
Ans. This line is, in fact, Henry's ultimatum that Golden Gray intends to live as his son, the young man will have to become less of a prince, accept the physical rigors of rural life and self-identify as a black person. This line also suggests that masculine identity wholly depends on man's ability to act, to exercise his will.

9.  Who is Violet?
Ans. Violet is a fifty-six year old woman living in Harlem with her husband Joe. She is nicknamed "Violent" after she invades Dorcas' funeral to dishonor the girl's face with a knife. An orphan raised by her grandmother in rural Virginia, Violet herself has no children and, after several miscarriages, she longs for a child.

10.  Why does Violet release her encaged birds?
Ans. Violet releases her encaged birds after Dorcas dies. She rejects what she holds dear, both in terms of the birds and in terms of her relationship with Joe.

11. Why does Violet plan to get herself a boyfriend?
Ans. Violet's husband Joe had a young girlfriend named Dorcas whom Joe killed at a party. Violet is mean enough and good looking enough to think that even without hips or youth she can punish Joe by getting herself a boyfriend in her own house. She thinks it will dry his tears up and give her some satisfaction as well.

12.  Who is Joe Trace?
Ans. Joe Trace is Violet's husband. He is a good looking man in his late fifties. He works hard, shuttling between a job as a waiter and a cosmetic salesman. He loves his wife but is hurt when she closes herself off from him because of her depression. A sympathetic character, Joe is nonetheless a murderer and adulterer, cheating his wife and then killing his lover.

13.  Name the parents of Joe Trace.
Ans. No one knows the real names of Joe's parents. When Joe is in school, he is asked to supply a last name for himself and he comes up with Trace because his adoptive mother has told him "O honey (your parents) disappeared without a trace." Joe's mother is rumored to live around the town of Vienna, Virginia and is named Wild.

14.  Why is there tension between Joe and Violet?
Ans. Joe and Violet are husband and wife. However, there is always tension between their relationship. The main reason is the presence of "other" in both characters. Moreover, both have grown up motherless. Violet's eccentricity and depression on one hand and Joe's love and murder of Docras on the other hand create tension between their relationship.

15. Why are Joe and Violet subject of ridicule in their community? 
Ans. Joe and Violet are ridiculed in their community because they are old black couple. Both have grown up motherless. Moreover, Violet makes little money as an unlicensed hairdresser, arriving at her clients' residences.

16. Why is Violet referred to as the “Bird Lady”?
Ans. Violet is called the “Bird Lady” because she keeps a parrot and lots of other birds in her apartment. She communicates with the birds and her parrot says “I love you.”

17. Why does the narrator describe Joe and Dorcas’ relationship as “one of those deep down, spooky loves”?

Ans. Joe and Dorcas’ relationship is labeled “spooky” because it was unusual and unnatural. There was more than a 30 year difference in their ages. After Joe shot Dorcas he cried everyday about it and was unable to resume a normal life. To protect him, Dorcas refused to name Joe as the person who shot her. After her death, the love continued and became more intense.

18. Why does Dorcas’ aunt Alice refuse to turn Joe over to the police?
Ans. Alice Manfred doesn’t want the police involved because the police have traditionally been an enemy of the African-American community. The police are considered as dangerous as the criminals. She doesn’t want them in her house sitting in her chairs. Furthermore, she has heard of Joe’s tears and knows that he will punish himself.

19. Compare and contrast Violet with Dorcas.
Ans. Violet is attractive but very dark-skinned. She is 50 years old, has hard edges to her personality, and is starting to act crazy. Violet no longer talks to Joe because she has time only for her birds. Violet is very thin, yet very strong, and Dorcas on the other hand is very light-skinned with long hair. These are two pluses. She is not particularly attractive, but she is 18-years-old. Dorcas is feeling the full impact of her sexuality and is eager for intimacy. It is easy for Dorcas and Joe to share their deepest secrets. Violet is independent, but Dorcas is extremely vulnerable and needs Joe’s protection.

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Toni Morrison's Depiction of Urban Life in Her Novel, "Jazz"

Toni Morrison's Depiction of Urban Life in Her Novel, "Jazz"

The fictional representation of the American city African American literature is often characterized by a stark manifestation of its hierarchical colour division. Interestingly, African American novels are replete with images of post-bellum migration to the city and the ghettozation of the “nigger.” Toni Morrison’s Jazz powerfully captures a vision of an urban locale in which racial spaces are viscerally demarcated for the blacks through long conditioning, though in reality no physical marker separates the white and black worlds. Such a traumatic awareness of their pariah status makes the blacks in Morrison’s Jazz perpetually reposition themselves.
This constitution of difference evidently replicates throughout the cityscape where both race and class create their respective unique spaces. These factors perhaps compel critics like Anne-Marie-Paquet-Deyris to view in the city an inimical force that denatures the Black communal voice: “As a new composite, the City is conditioned by the Great Migration from the rural South which started in the 1870s and climaxed between 1910 and 1930. Whatever traces of this former history survive in the text remain fragmentary or else unarticulated. They sometimes even lead to literal dead ends” (African American Review, Summer 2001). This perspective assumes that the displacement necessitated by the northward migration has resulted in an irreparable loss of the community’s historical narratives.
Deyris’s take is problematic because there is nothing to warrant the assumption that the community invested unstintingly in a consolidated historical voice prior to the urban relocation. Whatever was lost owing to the migration to the city had been more than compensated by the enormous opportunities it offered for liberal engagement with black individualism and collective group action, as has been superbly delineated in Morrison’s Jazz. Particularly for the black woman, this relocation to the urban centre was a proven blessing in that they no longer were confined to the domestic space or whatever socio-cultural environment was assigned to them. Violet has a high degree of professional mobility within the contours of black space. Ironically, it is Joe, the former master woodsman in Vesper County, who is reduced to a salesman of cosmetics in the city. The black women in the novel through continual engagement with their surroundings display sensitivity to the urban cartography. Delimiting such territory contributes to a simultaneous creation of a personal environment which facilitates a smooth transition to the social life of the city.
It cannot be denied, however, that no matter how liberating such spaces turn out to be, a sense of fear haunts the avenues of action available to the black people. The insertion of an additional ‘n’ that bizarrely transforms Violet’s name to the sobriquet “Violent” ironically touches upon the primeval drive for survival. Nevertheless, the availability of such linguistic play bespeaks a luxury hardly possible in the pre-urban time frame. Further, such a creative possibility ties in meaningfully with the shift in signification, later, from “Sth” to “Sweetheart” which is richly evocative of a mood of fruition and fulfillment that was woefully absent prior to the transitional phase marked by the text.
The sheer ebullience of the narrative in Jazz then significantly attests to the intellectual mobility of the community itself. In having Dorcas fall prey to her own whims and venalities the novel subtly underwrites the endurance and invincibility of the matriarchal vision that sustains the black narrative. Violet serves the role of a cultural link bridging the Past of the community in the country with the present in the City, as it were, and appropriately she even exhorts Felice to “make [the world] up the way you want it to [be]”. It is amply clear from the text that these communal narratives both sustain and empower the beleaguered black population through the transition phase. The colour division has ironically helped evolved a space and culture in the city that is uniquely and vociferously black. Of course, the mushrooming of several interest groups and associations later such as the National Negro Business League and the Civic Daughters forum point to the project of consciousness raising that is already underway. And the possibility of the central narrative voice being gender-neutral is unmistakably belied by the intimate access this voice has to spaces such as the Salem Women’s Club. These associations with their palpable presence in the narrative signify discourses that clearly reject stereotypical notions of the Negro as being regressive.
Thus, Morrison’s Jazz forcefully registers the nascent stirrings of group action at a certain historical moment, which though not politically strident, hold out the possibility of exploding into an organized revolt against the hegemonic forces.
Feel free to share your response. Thank you and good bye for now.
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