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"The Mechanical Man" - Golden Day Scence (Spoiler if you haven't read past pg. 71)
Near the end of chapter 3 when the doctor is with IM and Mr. Norton, the doctor begins to speak about Norton's "destiny" by referring to IM as "invisible" and "mechanical man". This right here stuck out like a sore thumb and obviously puts Norton's motives in the spotlight and the obvious implications of his doing. In Ch. 2, we are hinted at this with Mr. Norton exclaiming that IM's destiny is his very own. The doctor's views are also hinted at when he replies to IM that "he is just a man" no more no less. We touched on this a little in 6th hour but which is worse?: IM complying with the white's men's standards or the white men paying others for "immoral behavior"?
@aaparrot By "the white men paying others for "immoral behavior", what do you mean? Are you referring to Norton paying Jim Trueblood? I am going off of this but let me know if I misinterpreted. I would say that the white men paying others for "immoral behavior" is worse. These white men are reinforcing their racist beliefs and encouraging a system of oppression. However, they are only paying because the system already exists, they are not creating it by paying these people. I think this is a complex question, as someone who is white and has never been in a situation like IM, I'm not sure how I would react to being in his situation. Therefore it is challenging to come to a full conclusion.
I think that it is IM's decision (consciously or unconsciously) that he follows the white man. Though it seems strange to worship an oppressor, how can I truly blame him? He has been conditioned his life to believe this is the way and doing so will help him succeed in his society. Yes, it isn't right, he should never have been in this situation. He is trapped in a country built to control him and if this is his way out, so be it. I am quite interested in hearing other people's perspectives on this.
I think this is a hard question to answer. While Mr. Norton's behavior isn't morally great, he seems to be unconscious of this fact. Where IM is only trying to succeed in a white-dominated, he has to let down his grandfather. So IM has to deal with the issue of not doing anything morally wrong but something that belittles himself and a sense of self-worth. To answer the question of who "is worse," it depends on your own beliefs. Whether you think more, responsibility or self-responsibility is more important.
@stella I like what you brought up in the beginning of your post. Norton is unconscious of the fact that his actions are not morally great and I think that this is definitely something that happens today and is a very important part of this chapter. This unconscious decision making that reinforces racist beliefs and furthers the oppression of black people is scary and I think, part of the reason that black people have been oppressed for so long.
@snowyyeti I also agree that this is a scary concept. We don’t know what Mr. Norton is thinking, but we can see his potentially subconsciously racist thoughts through the things he says that @aaparrot brought forward. Racism is taught, so I think that this could be partly because of the time Mr. Norton's character existed in, but this is definitely still an issue today. I think that this issue has gotten better and better (however slowly), so today, people know racism is wrong and they have that engraved in their heads, but subconsciously prejudice still exists, and that is the root of the issue. Still I have heard statements from people (generally adults) that seem to have a racist undertone. Maybe this is because the topic of racism was less discussed? Or maybe this generation is just much more informed and advocative of the issues in our society? I think we are lucky to grow up in such a culturally appropriated generation, but the issue at play with Mr. Norton's character is still here today.
@theboulder I would be ready to agree with you if @stella didn't mention the grandfather. Obviously, his grandfather pointed out that being complicit is treachours and it never escapes IM. Sure, he can't envision a better society because this is the one he grew up in but his grandfather planted him with the knowledge of HOW to create a better one. Him KNOWING what it takes to end this but ignores it really seems almost like a worse crime. IM is only digging a deeper hole for his race.
I don't know if you can really blame IM here. He's basically taken the only path laid ahead of him: to be complacent which should lead to societal advancement. Even when his grandfather tells him that he's a traitor, it definitely seemed to me as if his grandfather was painting that as a good thing, something that his grandson should do. Infiltrate the white's society, you know? I don't think IM really could know of a way to make a better society other than listening to the vet right then and there. Personally, I don't think either party can be faulted because they're just drones of society. Even Mr. Norton is just doing the singular "moral thing" without thinking about it, and of course IM isn't really questioning his place yet either. As cliche as it sounds, the blame can be placed squarely on society, and I suppose the tendency for members of it not to think too deeply about their circumstances.
I'd have to say with 100% certainty that Mr.Norton is worse here. I saw mentioned here that maybe he wasn't aware of what he's doing, but with that I'd have to disagree. I think Norton paying trueblood has something to do with a guilty conscience, given how he talked about his daughter earlier in the novel. As far as IM goes, I think that maybe it isn't the best idea for him to be complicit with the standards set by white people, however like @salmon said we can't really blame him for this. Not being complicit could get him in serious trouble... I mean just look at the fight club we saw earlier, and the immediate shut down IM was met with when he mentioned equality. I mean, not only is it better for him to comply for societal advancements sake, but he could probably die if he deviates from the path set for him, as morally unjust as it is.
I agree that Nortan's motives are for sure in the wrong place. I think I see him as trying to push his own sins off on other people. I think he is pushing a lot of the issues that he faces himself mentally off onto the main character and I think that it shows. He also thinks by "helping" other people is a way for him to go and fake repentance for the sins he has committed. We can see that the reason that he helps African Americans is to try and redeem himself in a very superficial way. I think that word is the best way to describe him is as superficial and that he is faking being a good person in material ways instead of the which matter which is actually repenting and making peace with the evils you commit
@jacksonvon It's truly awful to think by redeeming yourself for past sins you must go out of your way to help another race because your own has done so much to wrong them... I think It shows society and splits it up into categories of people, those who feel remorse and want to better their wrong doings, and those who feel they owe nothing and keep to themselves. But are they wrong? what if they haven't done anything directly? does that make them a bad person? what do you think?
@jacksonvon, I completely agree, I feel like it's more of an ego thing for Mr. Norton. Obviously he has done good things for their culture, but like you said it's superficial. I don't think he actually cares about what he's doing. I think it's one, to make him look good, and two to right his wrongs in the past. But in reality he's not a good person and he may feel like he's righting his wrongs, but he's really not if everything he's doing is for him. I believe this is worse than not doing anything at all. I feel like it would be better for someone to not do anything at all then for someone to fake it all and act like they're the "savior".
@mangoman I understand what you are saying. Maybe you have misunderstood what I have said. I was not making the argument that all white people have a toll on pain for what happened in the past I mean my family is from Poland and arrived after the end of slavery. Except what I meant to say is that Norton isn't trying to pay for his family's racism. I think that he is just trying to act like a good person because he has a lot of issues the big one is wanting to go and sleep with his own daughter. I also see your point with doing something is better than doing anything at all. I do disagree I think with my own moral "blood" Money lets call it for the lack of a better term is bad we shouldn't further build Nortans ego by accepting the bad actions he commits i think he needs to actual repent if we want to see any real change with the character
I agree. I think Mr. Norton brags about something that is nothing to brag about. He claims that because he gives money to this black college, he must be helping racism. However, it is important to examine the ideals of this college that he is paying into. This college is run on the basis of what the hites want (seeing as that is how it is funded). These black students are taught "social responsibility" and not "social equality". All these students, IM included, don't believe there must be equality, and they believe they have a duty to impress these white men. All of these thoughts have been placed into these student's heads by the way in which they are taught. The whits (Mr. Norton is able to give them a sense of hope, without ever having their power actually in jeopardy.
This is not the first time we see this imagery throughout the novel. We see a reference to this mechanical man imagery in chapter two when Trueblood imagines himself as the man inside the clock. Rather then being seen as human beings, individuals are referred to as robots in a sense. We see this theme advance even in a conversation between IM and Norton
"Will you need me this evening, sir?" Norton responds, "No, I won't be needing the machine."
We also see this sort of theme pop up in the Golden day as most of the posts refer to. I feel as though this is a repeating theme and we might see it even further through the novel, this thought of this mechanical man imagery.
@aaparrot though I am a little late to this forum today in class we talked a lot about chapter three and the chaos that ensued here. One of the last things that we spoke about before class ended was the vet explaining to Mr. Norton what he really is and what IM is.
To answer your question at the bottom of your post is relatively hard because they both have their cons. Now from what I see the second option is worse. In chapter two when they are visiting Trueblood and the whole situation goes about he is frazzled by the idea of true blood yet still acts in the way that he does. Hence bringing it back to the vets description of his "destiny" which to me has to be some type of foreshawdowing even if thats not the right implication of it.
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