i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Burning Blood

March 30, 2005

"The full moon, an evil thing, an omen, soft showering the homes of folks she knew."

Does the moon make people crazy? Is there any truth to the legends or is it just an old wives' tale?

Well. I used to work in a restaurant on midnight shifts. I don't think it was my imagination that the nights of the full moon seemed to bring in all the loonies. I think it would be silly to think that the moon didn't affect us - think how lost we would be without that other great celestial object: the sun.

What I found interesting about Jean Toomer's "Blood-Burning Moon" was the way that the people of the town became an inhuman force intent on the death of Tom. "The mob yelled. The mob was silent." No one person is to blame for the situation at hand because the people became of one mind (directed, perhaps by the full moon) and acted as one body.

Moira at 10:46 AM :: Comments (5) :: ::

Ooo, we both wrote about the same thing--the effects of the moon's phases on people's behavior. Fascinating to think about, but not proven in science.

I can say that I think the prophetic symbolism behind the appearance of the moon in this story certainly does make readers think that the moon is an element in the brutish ways of the torturers. It's undeniable, really. Louisa has no clue that this horrible thing is taking place, and yet she mentions the moon (is it really her? I'm assuming that it is, although the story isn't written from her perspective).

Posted by: Karissa at March 30, 2005 01:37 PM

I didn't really see the full moon as a player in this story until now. I worked with mentaly disturbed chidren for a lot of years and they always seem very off the entire week of the full moon, so yes I think the moon does have an effect on people and their attitudes. I do see wher your coming from wiht the mob mentality. The mob became enraged and demanded Tom's death not wanting to know the whole story. This is a very powerful lesson about how we must listen before we act.

Posted by: Tammy Roberts at March 30, 2005 08:55 PM

Karissa - Proven or not by science, I still think the moon affects people's behaviors - look at the effects on the tides. I used to be a biology major (crazy, huh?) - I think part of the reason that I switched is that I realized science doesn't know everything - it's as much as a guessing game as everything else. ;c)

Tammy - Good point! And I'm glad you've noticed the difference in children's behavior around the time of the full moon. Hey, science majors! This would be a neat-o experiment (or would this be for the psych majors? [I used to be one of those too! hah!])

Posted by: moira at March 31, 2005 12:09 PM

Well, Moira, I guess your breadth of knowledge spanning multiple majors sure does come in handy with analyzing literature :-)

I agree that the moon can still affect people's behavior. Proven or not, my mom still insists that people drive crazier, there'll be more accidents, people get loopy in their demands, and kids become sort of crazed (almost like a "last-day-of-school"-esque syndrome). I tend to see her points, too.

But in application to the story, does the full moon truly play a role in the influence of the murdering mob? Or is it purely the hatred for the race that slit Bob's throat? Bob had come at Tom with intent to hurt him, Tom defended himself and THEN got ugly with his fighting after brushing Bob off at first. Who is wrong? Who should be held responsible for all this killing and brutishness?

Posted by: Karissa at March 31, 2005 02:14 PM

I think probably that the full moon makes a nice excuse - it's like "ooh.. the moon is full.. hey! let's kill someone!" not that I think anyone *consciously* had that thought, of course, rather that upon reflection that may be an excuse offered by one of the mob-members.

Hatred definitely played a role in the story but I think it was more man vs. man competition between Bob and Tom - who *owned* Louisa? The full moon just added the madness that was inevitable anyway.. it's probably never a good idea to string two men along...

Posted by: moira at March 31, 2005 02:33 PM
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