Another great set of discussions! For additional comments, don't forget that we're on Twitter: @UCPL_librarians #UCPLBigBook
Here are just a few of the points that came up this round:
Electricity is a theme - shock, light,etc
Liberty paint - the slogan is “keep america pure”
Chester Himes’ The Lonely Crusade - another novel featuring problems of African Americans and unions
Where is the broken bank? Is it still in his briefcase? It’s his baggage that he has to keep carrying around - what does he do with it in combat?
What about Bledsoe’s letters? Are they still in there? No, they were dropped off with the business offices
He’s still really naive
“I want him to control his temper”
He’s mad at people for banging on pipes - so what does he do? Bangs on the pipes
A reader is really mad at IM
Master the bulldog is a black and white dog - fear, violence and restraint
Learning to have his own opinions for the first time
Why was he uncomfortable with Mary?
Mary represents everything about being a child - he doesn’t like that
Ambivalent feelings about Mary - knew that he needed to leave her place - didn’t want to face her, felt guilty
We have to assume that he really does want to grow up - Mary won’t allow him to fall on his face
When he broke the bank, why did he keep the money?
Involvement with the Brotherhood - reminds a reader of a Charlie Chaplin movie in which he gets caught up in parade - fascinating parallels to the film The Great Dictator
The role of the grandfather - a reader is confused - what is the grandfather’s message? It is part of the baggage...
Hospital scene - reader feels “Ellison must have taken drugs at some point” - it was so trippy
How did Ellison learn about ect (electroconvulsive therapy)?
When IM gives his speech, the audience replies with a baseball metaphor - you’re throwing strikes - an improvisational twist? - also, strike is violence, and a labor term
Chthonian - having to do with the underworld
Is Lucius Brockway like a Happy House Slave?
What drives Brother Wrestrum? He’s envious, IM is uppity, why wasn’t he (Wrestrum) recognized? Thought IM was a threat to the Brotherhood
Example of dispossession - ch 14, p. 314 - when the drunk man asks him to dance: he doesn’t get to decide whether that’s insulting or not - other people decide for him that it’s insulting - Ellison is prescient about political correctness
Chapter 18 ends with IM believing he’ll be vindicated - more naivete
Powerful black union was the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Workers