Tuesday, October 9, 2007

All Aunt Hagar's Children 3

I would have to say that I found a lot more to discuss with the second half of this book. Especially in the last two chapters, the issue of diaspora and the importance of family past is brought more into the picture. I think "All Aunt Hagar's Children" definitely symbolizes the African American population. Hagar was Abraham's concubine in the Bible, who was eventually banished and forgotten about. I saw this as a symbol for the African American population because they were brought to America, forced to work, and eventually forgotten after slavery was abolished. I also think this is the meaning of the title because terms like "all God's children" are used throughout the book. For example, at the end of "Blinsided," Roxanne is imagining a universe where "...Pluto was open all the time to all of God's children. Yes, open even to the least of them" (321). I understood this to mean that the African Americans, Roxanne's race, are the "least of them."
In the chapter "Bad Neighbors," the story takes place in a neighborhood that seems to be made up of affluent African Americans. A more unfortunate family comes along and rents a house and the neighbors become angry and intimidated. This family seems to anger them because they ruin the image of successful African Americans that the neighbors are trying to uphold. Sharon, however, seems to want a simpler life. She secretly falls in love with Derek of this less fortunate family. She marries the man her parents approve of, but Derek is still there with her. In her inner monologue, she changes her words to sound like the lazy southern way Derek says his. So in a way, she tries to get back to her southern roots. She also "got into bed the way she came into the world" (373). For me, this symbolized going back to her roots. One of my favorite lines of the book was the last line of this chapter: "Almost imperceptibly, the rightmost red number on the fine German clock went from two to three" (373). I loved how Jones slyly suggests the love affair between Sharon and Derek, whether physical or just imaginary, by slipping in those numbers. Sharon and her husband's relationship now have this third person involved.
Now, I think the most loaded chapter as far as symbolism goes, was "Tapestry." The word tapestry describes the book's weaving together of many stories to form one tapestry of African American life. Also, Anne creates this tapestry which holds a lot of symbolism in the making of it. She creates this brown bunny, then she decides which way his path in the snow will go; she decides his new home for him, just as the American colonists decided the Africans' new home for them. She creates a hawk, because, "...the work would not be complete without a diving hawk, a bird of prey more dominant than anything else in the sunless sky...its talons exposed..." (385). She later removes the bunny, and the hawk stays in the tapestry triumphant. I think this symbolizes how the African American past, the story of so many opressed peoples, has been forgotten through the generations. This is a thought of Anne's as she is on the bus to Washington. Also, she says, "None of her descendants were ever to become tapestry women" (389). This means her descendants would forget where they came from as well. Anne decides that she wants to return to her roots in Mississippi, but she knows this will never truly happen. At the end of the chapter, the African American train passengers all around her start talking in thier sleep. They are whispering as if from another time, as if they are slaves. I think here, Jones meant to say that the African American past is still out there but it is as small as a whisper during sleep. African Americans are forgetting the rich histories they have, and this is upsetting since it is how they came so far from where they were.

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