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Dialogue is Action

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Persephone
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Another thing I'd like to add to this thread is the continuous mention of the Sambo dolls. Obviously they represent racism, but why are they repetitively in the story? Like in marys house and being sold by Clifton. I wonder if there is a deeper meaning connected to them and if this will be clarified later on. Perhaps they are simply taunting IM as he progresses through his character development, but even then they must have another purpose to be mentioned over and over again. I wonder what you guys think...


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MangoMan
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@madams43 I have to agree with what you said.  I didn't think about it but that would make sense.  By using the object to her own advantage she takes away others power over it.  It's like ignoring someone bothering you because all they want is the attention.


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savhoisington
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@jacksonvon I agree. I too am not positive what Mary's purpose would be, but I think there could be a variety of reasons. I think that like everything else, every person has a different perspective, so the same thing goes for how different black people may see certain things. For a current example, I was talking to a woman that had salt and pepper shakers that were ceramics of black people. She explained to me that they were owned and used by white people in the past to feel superior. From this, she explained that it could be very offensive, but also they can be collected by black people in order to almost take back the power/ remember or honor the ancestors. So I think that there will always be a variety of reasons people do things


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Conster
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@gil

I believe that having sambo outside allowed for the public perception of normalcy. The average white passerby seeing the sambo outside of Mary's place sees an average place in the city. In appearing as an average white place, Mary is able to blend in with the places around her, so as to get the same treatment of her property as white people do. This is a play on the system in a slightly different way than Bledsoe's play on the system.

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Conster
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@savhoisington

I fully agree that diversity of thought does not falter based on racial lines. Everyone of all races will have differing opinions and viewpoints on all topics. A person of color may find sambo to be disgustingly offensive to own, and another person of color may find that having sambo allows for them to have control over the portrayal of African Americans, and feel in power over how they deal with discrimination against them. People are different in their views no matter their race, which is an important thing to consider when thinking about what is acceptable and unacceptable to different people.


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DeepThought
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@snowyyeti I think that this change is very important to understanding Brother Clifton and the Brotherhood as a whole. I think that Brother Clifton was selling Sambo dolls because he realized that the Brotherhood didn't care about the people as much as Brother Clifton thought they did. I think that we can see this trend in the way that a lot of the members of the Brotherhood talk. Ever since IM joined they have been talking about being a part of history, and changing history and similar rhetoric. I think this language shows that the Brotherhood doesn't care about making a difference for people, they just care about trying to make their mark on the history books.


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Madams43
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@mangoman

Exactly, as long as you don't give something control over you and your life it really holds no power. 


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MSAR
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@jacksonvon I also used to be as confused as you on why she had the sambo in her possession. Mary used the sambo as a tool against white folks themselves. She didn't give it much importance with the way she used the item in her everyday life. It reassuring to her. the fact that she had that item in her possesion shows her fearlessness towards possible death threats from whites, as if she were challenging them and questioning their power over her.


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abuzz
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I don't know if I am thinking too far into this, but another reason Mary may have had the Sambo was for her own safety. It was used as a prop for the door, which means passerby's would only see the Sambo. With whites using it as a symbol of power, it may have been to her advantage to keep it at the door. Mary is a single, black woman who let others stay in her home. She may have felt more comfortable with people who walked by her door thinking she was white to stray away from any potential dangers.


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Gil
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@leinweber I noticed this about the brotherhood as well. I mean of course I did. Thinking of the note IM recieves, "it's a white man's world"-this brotherhoof seems to believe this. Do you think that because of the brotherhood's attitude, Clifton felt kind of hopeless? Perhaps Clifton felt that since even the brotherhood was sort of a lost cause, that he might as well just give into the racist nature of the world. I feel Clifton selling the Sambo dolls may be a symbol for those that give up and give in to the harsh, hopeless realties of the world. It's almost like Clifton's thinking may be, "if you can't beat em, join em". Clifton has given into this world, he knows what people want and is giving it to them. 

 


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Gil
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@persephone I too find it interesting how the Sambo dolls are so repetitively brought into the story. There is no question that these dolls are very symbolic. I like how you said that they are, in a way, "haunting" IM. I feel like the Sambos say a lot about the characters that are portrayed to have them, like Clifton. The fact that Clifton is even selling these dolls is shocking for everyone, IM is dumbfounded by Clifton, "Why had he picked that way to earn a quarter? Why not sell apples or song sheets, or shine shoes?" Clifton choosing to sell Sambo dolls really says a lot about his character, about him giving in to society. As for Mary, I don't know what it says about her, maybe she too feels a need to give into society as well? The Sambos represent how this world sees IM, as I was looking back at the Mary section, I remembered the trash can scene, where the lady threatens to call the police for mixing their garbage together. A line that really stood out to me was, "I didn't know that some garbage was better than others." (page 328) Dang. This lady and so many others just see IM as a Sambo. 


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xwing37
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@snowyyeti, that's a really good idea that I haven't really thought of. I think it's pretty spot on too. It makes a lot of sense because the white people probably never would have thought that black people would start displaying it. I think she definitely did this to take away the power of the coin bank. Thanks for responding!


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SnowyYeti
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@leinweber  I would definetely agree with this. I think that the brotherhood is more concerned with the politics within the group and how they look to the world than they are concerned with actually making a difference in the community.  I think that the language that the brotherhood uses is a great place to look to see their true intentions 


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abuzz
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@snowyyeti I could not agree more with this. I always think back to when Wrestrum eagerly tried to "exile" (I can't think of a better word) IM from the Brotherhood. He claimed IM was using the Brotherhood as a platform for his own benefit to land the interview he did when Wrestrum was there when IM received the call. Instead of using it as an opportunity to acknowledge the positive press the Brotherhood and IM had just gained, he turned against one of his own. IM has asserted a prominent voice within the Brotherhood and it is very clear that some of the veteran members are nearly threatened by his success even though as a Brotherhood, they should be working together in unity. 


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abuzz
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@gil Our class discussion today focused mainly on the Sambo dolls. What really stood out to me was what IM did with Mary's Sambo doll after trying to dispose it. He ended up giving up and leaving it in his briefcase. It never leaves that spot, and where ever he takes his briefcase it comes. With how much remorse and disgust he felt about seeing it at her door, it's quite strange how he keeps it with him. Not only is the Sambo doll in there, but his scholarship speech, leftover letters from Dr. Bledsoe, and many other artifacts from earlier in the book have been with him through the entire novel just packed away in his briefcase. With IM being so dumbfounded about Mary's Sambo, he seems to keep tokens from his journey with him. 


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