Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Epitome of the Term Flip-Flopper

Jake Jackson is a confident man. He speaks his mind with conviction, leaving no room for doubt in any of his statements. However, it becomes clear that a problem exists when a man of such conviction can be so adamant about both sides of an issue. The clearest example of Jake's role as a flip-flopper would be his opinion of white people. At times all he can do is complain about how unfair their treatment is of him or how they're out to get him since he's black. But if you read on for a couple more pages, Jake starts to praise white people for the accomplishments they've achieved and the vastness of their intellect.

"White folks always inventing something."
"They's smart."
"The white folks do everything so easy..."
"...working together like a army..."
"...marching to war!"
"Sometimes when I think about it I almost hate myself."
"Yeah, sometimes I wish I was anything but a ni**er" (166).

This theme is also present in Jake's idea of God. At the beginning of the novel, Jake goes on and on about how Lil reading her Unity books is a waste of time and money. He even mocks her by suggesting that she have God cure her of her tumor. But while he worked in the factory, Jake and his friends start praising God Almighty, saying, "Funny how some fools can stand up and say there ain't no Gawd" (165).

But the question is: Why does Jake always have two opposing opinions on an issue? Unless Jake and his friends are playing bridge or throwing around "your mama" jokes, the group of friends rarely have differing opinions. If anyone expresses their opinion, the other three members of the group quickly chime in their approval of the thought. The succession of their agreeing thoughts mimics the succession of orders barked out by the foremen to Jake and each of his friends. This idea of universal thought is pretty amusing once you think about how much Jake and his friends hate the communist Reds of "Roosia."

1 comment:

Erin Sells said...

Erik, great post. You point out a very interesting aspect of Jake's personality here. The question his 'flip-flopping' raises for me is whether it is born of extreme confidence or extreme insecurity, frustration, and hopelessness in almost every aspect of his life. Like the loud grandstanding Jake and his pals participate in, these demonstrations may be built up around a lack, a gap, a hole in their identities.