Broken bones beneath the beauty IRJE #4

In the book Washington Black by Esi Edugyan, Washington is a slave boy born on a plantation, ironically named Faith. Washington’s master has died, and the master’s nephew has come to take over the plantation. The new master, Erasmus Wilde, was accompanied by his brother Christopher Wilde. Christopher was nicknamed Titch because he was sick as a child and was very small. Christopher has asked to be called Titch because “Mister Wilde is my father.”(p. 36) Titch and Washington have climbed a nearby mountain, Corvus Peak and Washington has been asked to draw the landscape.

But as I surveyed the terrain, a slow feeling was growing in me, a feeling I could not account for. I watched Titch at his exertions. And as I began to draw what I saw with a clean accuracy, I realized I was troubled by the enormous beauty of that place, of the jewel-like fields below us, littered as I knew them to be with broken teeth. The hot wind snapped at my papers, and in a kind of ghostly sound beneath this I thought I heard the cry of a baby. For the few women who gave birth here were turned immediately back into the fields, and they would set their tender-skinned newborns down in the furrows to wail against the hot sun. I craned out at the fields; I could see nothing. Far out at sea, a great flock of seagulls rose and turned, the late afternoon light flaring on the undersides of their wings.

I chose this quote because it speaks of the double-sided nature of everything we see. The quote talks about the beautiful landscape, yet the evils contained within are still there. It makes you think about how if you walk far enough from something it becomes more perfect. I sort of think of the quote as unfocusing a camera, it can become beautiful, yet you miss half the details. So what problem have you not looked hard enough at recently?

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