Saturday, February 9, 2008

ignorant, stubborn, helpless

Throughout the novel, we constantly see Jake making bad decisions. He hits Lil though he knows she's likely to report him, he wastes his money though he is already in debt, he mouths off to the inspector at work and smokes on his break though he is already at risk for losing his job, and the list goes on and on. Over the course of one day, Jake continually makes these bad decisions; and no sooner does he escape the mess of one bad decision before he goes ahead to make another one. At work, when Jake is called before the Board, he just barely manages to keep his job after having been reported by Lil for the third time for domestic abuse; however, as soon as he leaves the Board room he stares "all the way to the South Side of the city where Lil was. I'm going to break that bitch's neck if it's the last thing I ever do! I'm going to stomp her guts out as sure as my name's Jake Jackson..." Beating Lil is what led Jake to face the Board in the first place, yet as soon as he gets off the hook, he immediately thinks of beating her again.

Every once in awhile, we see Jake realize the error of his ways. After gambling away his money playing policy, Jake thinks, "I'll never be fool enough to play them things again!" It seems for a brief moment that Jake has realized the stupidity of gambling when he is already so far in debt, but only a moment later he says to himself, "Maybe if I'd played all the numbers I could get on my dream, I would've won something. He would break that policy wheel yet. Just wait." Later, when Jake is called before the board, he thinks about having beaten Lil and wants "to tell those clerks about this terrible thing Lil had done, he wanted them to know what a pickle of a fix she had gotten him into. It's all my own fault, he thought regretfully. I should've tricked her before she tricked me..." Though we see Jake realizing the consequences of his actions, he somehow turns the situation around to make himself the poor victim. Unfortunately, though Jake occasionally shows a hint of good thinking, he never fully realizes the blame for his bad decisions, and thus never seems to learn from his mistakes. Instead, he just feels joyous at having managed to escape the consequences.

Jake is stubborn and controlling. Though he sometimes appears to begin to take the blame for his actions, he is too stubborn to fully admit fault. This seems to be due to a buried feeling of helplessness in Jake's life. He is unable to control so many aspects of his life revolving around race and the depression, so he feels the need to exert control over every other aspect of his life including Lil and going out with his friends.

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