You Knock Me Off Of My Feet!

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Michael Jackson song is what I was thinking of for those who didn't know.

In any case, I must blog something for part four of "John Henry Days" by Colosn Whitehead. So, like any good story (except this one), I'll start at the beginning: "They come out of cars. Out of vehicles hot from sunlight and conveying engines. The hoods tick cool. Parking is a hassle. Nose to nose" (245).

This whole section reminded me of Steinbeck's book "The Grapes of Wrath" where every other chapter (almost) was scattered, illogical, and could almost take place at any spot in the story. These kind of chapters continue to show up in "John Henry Days" as well, but the difference is that the section isn't metaphors. Though it does not describe any main character, it does relate to the event/plot of the story. It's acts as more of a building exposition.

Why does Whitehead do this?

Something I also wanted to confirm is on page 269 with the Sepia Ladies Club. They call themselves this because they're old fashioned and proper, right? The "Sepia" part reflects the color of the old pictures that were taken.

SO

3 Comments

Jessie Krehlik said:

I actually like that the book jumps around like this. It's confusing at time, and very frustrating, but it kind of keeps me interested, because it forces me to keep going to find out what happens with a certain character. The thing I don't like, on the other hand, is the fact that Whitehead feels so compelled to jump in time. I get why he does it in the beginning of the book--it's essential to have the climax that early in order to keep readers interested, but after that, why can't he just go in order? I don't think it would hurt the book that much, but then again, I guess we'll never know...will we?

I agree, Jessie. Those chapters are my favorite ones. Maybe it's because I love Steinbeck and his writing style, but they keep me so much more interested than any of the "normal" chapters.

Aja Hannah said:

Yea. I would be a little more comfortable and attracted to reading if it just ahead that first time and then went back chronologically. Even if it jumped back to John Henry's days during the plot, but I'd also like to see John Henry's story in chronological order.

Hey, this back and forth between two characters lives/past and present reminded me of Holes. Was the structure of that book similar?

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