Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Haley Reading group: The Intuitionist, 69 – 105


[The Intuitionist (1999)]

We've been pushing forward in Colson Whitehead's The Intutionist.

Since the first time I read the novel, I've been fascinated by this scene where two enforcers kidnap a reporter and begin breaking his fingers (74-77). On the one hand, the scene is painful as you consider this guy going through the torture. At the same time, the way Whitehead writes about the scene makes it kind of humorous, or at least like something out of a comic book or television show.

I think the contrasting responses and the style of writing of the scene make it so memorable to me. But what do you think about that scene? What stands out to you about it? Take some time to review that section (74 - 77), and let us know what you think.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

I thought John was interesting. He was self aware enough to admit that he is thug. At the same time, he justified his actions (breaking Urich's fingers) by explaining that this was happening because Urich had lied to him. He accused Urich of not being neighborly, and overall tried to make Urich feel as if this torture was his own fault.
-Isaiah J.

Anonymous said...

I thought the discussion about "The Dilemma of the Phantom Passenger" to be very intriguing. Intuitionism seems to argue that since the purpose of an elevator is to do work for a passenger, than without a passenger the elevator effectively doesn't exist even when it is pointlessly called because it has no duties to fulfill. It reminds me of the argument of "If a tree falls in the middle of the forest and no one is around to here it does it make a sound?" Logic would tell us that yes, the elevator indeed does exist in those moments even though there is no work for it to do. I believe that this causes readers to think more subjectively with a more solipsistic point of view. Since the elevator doesn't matter in this state it essentially doesn't exist.


- Courteney Wilson

Courteney Wilson said...

I found the topic of "The Dilemma of the Phantom Passenger" to be very intriguing. It seems that intuitionism suggests that if an elevator were pointlessly called without a passenger to carry or work to do it essentially does not exist. It has similarities to the thought experiment, "If a tree falls in the middle of the forest with no one around, does it make a sound?" Logic tells us that yes the tree and the elevator both exist and have an effect in the real world. This causes readers to look at events more subjectively or through a solipsistic lens. If an elevator is defined by its ability to do a task for an individual, with no individual to experience the task it is doing, the elevator effectively does not exist.

-Courteney Wilson

Thomas Siganga said...

I have always been the type of person who respected people who were not afraid to show their true self. I could probably count more people than the amount of fingers I have in society trying to conform and act differently from who they truly are. John was relatable to me in that aspect(of course not in the thuggish ways though) and I love how he was not afraid to prove how cruel he was when Urich lied to him. Torture being on Urich made sense due to his own lies and John made this feel just to Urich.

Unknown said...

I found it interesting how descriptive it was about the use of Urich'd index finger upon its breakage from John. John him self was interesting because ot his bluntness, and the distaste for dishonesty despite his occupation as a thug. It also becomes ironic since it described Urich has having a quest for the truth but happening to tell lies about Johnny Shush

-Andrew H.

Justin Jubert said...

I found it interesting how much imagery and description was used to describe Urich's finger. It was a "key player," "versatile" and "dependent." All of these attributes were instantly lost when it was broken. This shows that in a split second, something very important can be taken away from you at that nothing is guaranteed.

Fontez McNeal said...

I think that the description of the scene is amazing. The way that the author personifies the index finger was interesting and unique, it showed the value of the finger which made the loss of it seem so much more devastating. However, the authors description of the sound of Ben's fingers breaking takes away all seriousness, belittles the action, and makes it seem more comical.

Phoenix Johnson said...

What stands out to me is what the symbolism of ben's index finger means on pg 74 paragraph 4. The author describes it as a key pler in Ben's life and role. The finger represents how he is determined on the story. To get him off Johnny has to break the mat devotion being his finger. Therefore, what stand out is the significance of the pharaoh that talks about the importance of his index finger.

Miles Wadlington said...

An unique and ironic dynamic we have in this scene. We have a thug, John, whom has the nice quality of having no sympathy for liars. Then we have a staunch reporter, Urich, who always desired to expose the truth. These two men have a similar obsession with the truth. You would think they’d get along, right? Well, Urich messed up when he decided to lie about John. Therefore, instead of being buds, John broke Urich’s fingers like crab legs. In the words of my late great uncle, “Ya done messed up kid.”

Anonymous said...

What stands out most to me in this scene is the way Whitehead is able to use humor in such an otherwise serious situation. My favorite part is when the driver of the car, John, begins explaining everything to the reporter, "... I don't know where half of these people learned how to drive, but there are some truly bad drivers out on the road tonight" (Whitehead 74). The driver says this in the middle of a hostage situation, to the hostage. I can honestly say, I never would have expected a book about elevators to be this funny.

Jason Alexander