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Capitalism in Ernest Gaines’ “A Gathering of Old Men”

Last post, I started looking at the ways that capitalism structures society in Ernest Gaines’ A Gathering of Old Men. Using Karl Marx’s “Preface” from A Critique of Political Economy, I noted how legal and social structures arise from the foundation of capitalism, working in tandem to construct the superstructure that separate individuals from one another based on wealth and power. Today, I want to look at these aspects in relation to Gaines’ novel, moving towards how white supremacy arises from this foundation, working to maintain the system.

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Who is the Villain in Ernest J. Gaines’ “A Gathering of Old Men”?

Recently, I had a conversation with Jennifer Morrison, for my Multicultural American Literature class, on Ernest Gaines’ A Gathering of Old Men. At one point, we began talking about Fix and the ways that Gaines represents him, specifically through the eyes of an outsider to the community, Sully. This topic led me to eventually ask, “Who is the villain in the novel?” On the surface, it seems like Fix, but that is not necessarily the case. I posited that the villain of the novel is white supremacy, and Jennifer argued that it’s capitalism. This part of the conversation really made me start thinking about this, especially in light of discussions I had in class with students in another class. One of the students talked about a class where they looked at the 1619 Project and discussed it, and some students didn’t agree that America rose up from the labor and on the backs of enslaved individuals.

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Constructing Narratives in Jennine Capó Crucet’s “Make Your Home Among Strangers”

Stories connect us. We tell stories to create and share our commonalities, leading in many ways to the myths we tell ourselves as nations and communities. Along with these aspects, we tell stories to share with others information about ourselves: our likes, our dislikes, our identities. It is this latter aspect that I want to look at some today because both Lizet and her mother Lourdes in Jennine Capó Crucet’s Make Your Home Among Strangers construct stories to shape their identity and to shape the ways that others view them.  

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Plagiarism in Jennine Capó Crucet’s “Make Your Home Among Strangers”

Last year in my LES Studies class I taught Jennine Capó Crucet’s My Time Among the Whites: Notes from an Unfinished Education which led me to read her debut novel Make Your Home Among Strangers and teach it in my Multicultural American Literature class. This novel contains a lot, and even in my lectures, I cannot cover everything within the novel. My class is for educators, and as such, I decided to focus on Lizet’s experiences as a first-generation college student far away from her family and how she worked to navigate the world of academia. I could have focused on the ways that Crucet uses Ariel Hernandez’s story as a parallel to Elian Gonzalez, which is important. I’m looking forward to their discussions of those parallels as we start talking about the novel, but the focus on Lizet’s educational experiences ties the novel into conversations we have had over the course of the semester so far.

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Reader Positioning in Tahereh Mafi’s “A Very Large Expanse of Sea”

Last post, I started looking at some of the connections between G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s Ms. Marvel and Tahereh Mafi’s A Very Large Expanse of Sea. Today, I want to continue looking at Mafi’s novel, focusing on some of the way that it highlights white privilege and whiteness. These moments occur most notably when Shirin points out that Ocean never had to think about any of the issues that she has encountered. These moments lead, at times, to centering Ocean in the text, calling out to white readers to engage with their own privilege and perspective.

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