Monday, March 19, 2012

"That's when all hell breaks loose"

I spent a good portion of the day today reading "The Healing" by Jonathan Odell. I haven't finished the book and will likely have much more to say about it when I do. But today I read a portion that struck me as a powerful statement about what we see going on today.

The setting is a Mississippi plantation. Silas, who has been the Master's right-hand slave since he was a boy, is troubled by the appearance on the plantation of Polly Shine...a healer who Silas suspects is subtly challenging the status quo.

"I did my best to teach the master about slaves. Told him a hundred times when he was a boy that it wasn't a black skin that made a man a slave. It's the other skin, the one that grows on the outside, that second hide made of fear and obedience. What a good master does is every once in a while, prick that skin to remind folks that it's still there and always will be. I told him that if a slave was to molt that outside skin, you no longer have a slave. 'Mark my words," I said, 'when a man's not afraid, then he's hoping. And that's when all hell breaks loose.'"

1 comment:

  1. Similar point, that in Russia in Feb 1917, people described the Tsar's authority "evaporating" or "melting away." That's how power goes. A lot of things need to happen to get there, but that's how it happens. If everyone in this country dropped their fear away, a lot of things would evaporate immediately.

    On another subject, I assume you've read "Kindred." My top novel for examining slavery, race, and the relationships they produce.