[The Intuitionist (1999)]
We're just a little beyond the halfway mark with Colson Whitehead's The Intuitionist. Some of the mysteries or puzzles are now coming into focus. Most recently, we read from 145 - 217.
At this point, it's clear that Whitehead is an eloquent, inventive writer. One of the memorable statements that he offers during the section we read was when he goes, "horizontal thinking in a vertical world is the race's curse" (151). The sentence plays on contrasting ideas (i.e. up/down vs. left/right), and is deliberately ambiguous about which race is meant. The line is concise, contains multiple meanings, and thus remains memorable.
What about you--what a sentence or series of sentences that you found especially memorable from the section that we read (145 - 217)? Why did that line or those lines capture your attention? Be sure to cite the page number.
"It's against the law", Lila Mae barks. "You took an oath." "Don't talk to me about oath," he spits. "I got two boys. One of the five. the other seven. I was raised in this neighborhood."(page 194) These sentences caught my attention as it showed how much he cared for family or even his connection to the area. Also, their young age played a role as it made me feel that his position was not completely in the wrong.
I thought that the part where Pompey pulling back his suspenders is compared to him pulling back chains (193). It was a good representation of how Pompey had accepted his subjugation to Chancre. Pompey emphasized Lila Mae's personality by acting the exact opposite of how she would.
"She recognizes the cramped handwriting, the internecine slashing script. She has studied it under the gaze of the institute librarian, in locked rooms-she even, in the early, giddy days of her conversation, practiced Fulton's handwriting for hours. She knows the ink". (Whitehead 205) These lines stand out to me because they demonstrate how in depth Whitehead is willing to go with the characters in this story. This character is described as going to the extreme's of mastering someone else's handwriting. Not only is that an extreme thing, but the information is rolled out with such detail you could make hundreds of implications based on just these few lines.
"She recognizes the cramped handwriting, the internecine, slashing script. she has studied it under the gaze of the Institute Librarian, in locked rooms-she even, in the early, giddy days of her conversion, practiced Fulton's handwriting for hours. Knows the ink." (Whitehead 205) What I find stands out most in these sentences is the amount of detail Whitehead uses. These sentences demonstrate how in depth Whitehead is willing to get with his characters. He even used the word "internecine" which I have never even heard before.
"She'd been riding with a partner all week, an owl-faced grumpus whom she didn't particularly like" (Whitehead 175).The page/scene itself wasn't that memorable, in my opinion. However, I liked the description of Lila's partner and found that to be humorous as well as memorable.
"The city's tidal forces wash the weak trading citizens out here, to the edge, to pitiless crags like the Friendly League Residence" (185). This stood out to me because it speaks truth. Some cities change people some adept and other fall. The environment or "forces" create or destroy possibilities for people.
An interesting phrase or sentence that the author uses in this section is “MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A WOMAN” In the scene Big Billy Porter and Gordon Wade are putting on a display a blackface show making fun of blacks and their behaviors and the way they speak and act. What I find “interesting” is that in the midst of them making fun of black people they also take a stab at women by responding to that women’s exclamation by saying “Do my laundry.” I think maybe since this book was made relatively recently Whitehead could have been trying to add a little comic relief in the midst of the major degrading of the black race, but you could also probably take it as a serious stance in making their readers ask themselves is that really how they view women. Gabe G.
Something i found interesting was the remark Natchez made to Lila Mae on page 189; "I know you one of these modern city gals, Lila Mae, but me, I like to take it slow". Lila Mae was attempting to help Nanchez but he perceived it as her ordering him around and essentially moving quickly which can be perceived in multiple ways. It allows the reader to interpet what kind of view Nanchez has toward Lila Mae.
A quote I thought that really stood out was what something Pompey said to Lila Mae during their disagreement. Pompey says, "You see them kids play ball? Ten years from now half of them be in jail, or dead, and the other half working as slaves just to keep a roof over they heads" (Whitehead 194). This statement was very memorable because it shows how depressing life in America for a black person can be, especially the further you go back in our history. It causes one to think about how many of the oppressive forces acting on black Americans then are still present in todays society.
- Courteney Wilson
When Pompey said "You see them kids play ball? Ten years from now half of them be in jail, or dead, and the other half working as slaves just to keep a roof over they heads" (Whitehead 194). It really clicked to me how African Americans are looked at in society and I feel will forever be looked at in a way. It just makes you want to compare things and see if the statistics that we are being told really true and if so you just want to change it because that is a way that no one wants to be seen as.
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