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The Sambo dolls keep popping up in this book, and I've been trying to figure out why. I think that it might be a reoccurring item to show IM's progression throughout the book each time he sees it. I feel like he progressively gets angrier and angrier each time.
@abuzz I also found it interesting that IM keeps these tokens. For someone to be so (rightfully) disgusted by the Sambo dolls, it's a little strange he's kept it with him all this time, along with all the other stuff he has in his briefcase. To me it seems like he keeps things important to his self discovery. For example the scholarship speech, and the letters from bledsoe. Hopefully this idea is further explored later in the book for some clarification...
@abuzz yes! It is very interesting how IM carries the broken pieces of Sambo with him. It is a pretty obvious metaphor, but I thought of yet another additional piece to add to it. No matter how hard IM tried he couldn't throw the broken pieces away. When he tried to throw it away in a trash can on the side of the road, he was screamed at by a white lady from a window. He had no choice but to pick it back up and take it with him. No matter how hard IM tries, he is always stuck dragging this ugly history around-he's stuck. He even tries to just drop it on the ground, but there is always someone bringing it up, he just could not get rid of it. No matter how hard IM tries, that does not change the past and the rest of the world's attitude towards him.
@persephone I agree with you that it seems that he keeps things for self discovery. I also think that he keeps these things for reminders that these are things that shape who he is, as a black person. These are things that have been holding him and his race down for so long. I know that someone in the Sambo forum said that Mary may have had the Sambo to take some power away from it and maybe IM is kinda doing this too.
I really like this idea. It's likely she felt that she needed to have something to "ward off" any excess hate that could come from white people
I completely agree with your interpretation! I feel that it provides a sort of constant to contrast with his progress in order to show what is changing in comparison to what is failing to change around him. This would be a great way for Ellison to give the reader a more clear-cut demonstration of the impacts of his experiences, which is why I think that this interpretation is right or at least is part of the reason Sambo dolls keep popping up.
@gil I think that is a great way to look at the situation. With all of these outside sources, honing in on such a specific thing that he is trying to dispose of it is like the phrase "the universe is trying to tell [him] something." It is merely forceful, and I agree his past is ugly. With him trying to erase his past, it seems like he is being told to keep holding on because he has to. This whole situation is also quite contradictory because there are people constantly telling IM what to do which is what he has been trying to shy away from since the first chapter.
@msar I think I agree after talking about it in class more I feel like I have a better grasp about why she has the doll. As well as reading the chapter about Todd Clifton. I saw it while I do agree that she does have the doll so that she can show how white people are in control of her. We talked about this in class a lot how the sambo doll while she can go and use it and show how white people have no control over her the more that she does this we can see that she actually is more under control by white people the more she pushes it and it is just internalized this is why that she keeps the sambo doll. So it seems like in the novel whoever possesses the sambo doll comes to go and sees that they are super under the influence under the people who control them
@jacksonvon Thanks a lot you. I definitely see it now. Although at first the idea that you proposed to me might seem counter intuitive, now that we see one of the concepts in this novel is that the more you hate it the more you gotta have it. So in this sense since the black characters in the novel hate the sambo doll, they got they are very much conscious about the power that white people have over them. All in all, the fact that they are giving them some sort of thinking means that white people are in they head.
@snowyyeti This is a great idea! I was so focused on the fact that he hates the doll, that I hadn't realized that maybe he wanted to take the power away from it. Keeping them as reminders is also a good idea, and i think maybe you're right that he keeps them around to remind him of what's shaped him as a person, and as a black person.
@jacksonvon The sambo doll has so much power over people and I think what's ironic is that it's man-made. The fact that people think they have power over this object when in reality it has become a symbol of both hate and power, for the black and white community. We know why it's hateful in the black community but I think when members of the black community use it to outsmart those that are in the white community and are hateful, the object is being used to mock those hateful people.
@persephone It almost does seem that IM wants to take the power away from the sambo doll figure. One scene in the novel that stood out to me was when IM was pulling at Clifton's sambo doll's string. He was trying so hard to "make it dance" it seemed that he was trying to figure out how it operated.
I think that IM trying to make it dance was meant to represent his own attempt at understanding the way in which the white elite are able to control minorities in society. By this I mean that the white elite are so easily able to oppress and control given the system that they have set up that we all live in. In an attempt to understand what it is like to be in the shoes of the whites, IM tried to make the Sambo doll dance, but as a minority himself, he could never be able to have the same power as the whites as long as the circumstances (think nationwide societal system) remained the same.
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