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Old 05-05-2010, 07:22 PM   #11
tammyroo's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Suffolk VA
Posts: 227

Originally Posted by *NikkiBell* View Post
In life, we meet many people. Sometimes you think you know a person only to find out that they are actually much different than you'd ever expect. Miss Celia, surprisingly enough, has become one of them. We've read pages upon pages describing her as this weak, pitiful thing of a woman, only to find out there's so much more to her past. On page 309, we actually see Miss Celia take things into her own hands when defending Minny from the drunkard who threatens their safety.

Minny also surprised me. Beneath that strong, heavy persona, we see her vulnerable side:

"[People] don't know what a pathetic mess I turn into when Leroy's beating on me. I'm afraid to hit back. I'm afraid he'll leave me if I do. I know it makes no sense and I get so mad at myself for being so weak! How can I love a man who beats me raw? Why do I love a fool drinker?" (413)

This particular passage really hit home for me. Although I've never been in a physically abusive relationship, I have found myself asking similar questions as Minny did. Similarly, time and time again we hear a story of a girl (or woman) staying with a man who treats her poorly. But why? Why do women (and men) crave the love and attention from people who hurt them --- either physically or emotionally? Does this mean that they are weak? Do you think it affects how they present themselves to the world? In Minny's case, she had a very strong personality outside of Leroy's wrath. Did her suffering at home change how she acted in the neighborhood?
Nikki, you always ask such great questions.
As a mental health therapist, I work with (mostly) women in abusive relationships all the time. There are so many factors that contribute to someone getting and staying involved in an abusive relationship. There isn't really one definitive reason but a combination of factors like lack of self esteem, traumatic childhood experiences, even cultural expectations. I have found that certain cultures find it more acceptable for men to have a mistress, for instance. Once women are in the relationship, it is so hard for them to leave for a lot of reasons, especially if there are children.

I so loved this book for the honest portrayal of women. There were no super-women here...just flawed human beings trying their best to get by and survive, including the less sympathetic characters. Most of us think peer pressure ends in high school but this is a perfect example of how even adults are caught up in the pressure to fit in and be acceptable.
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