Freitag, 11. Mai 2012

The End.

The End is a little confusing. Jeremiah is shot by the police and dies. The reader gets this message through a call by Jeremiahs mother. It is not completely clear how Ellie deals with this loss. However three years later she goes to a good college.     

Further reading
After Woodson published “If you come softly” the characters of the book stayed in her mind. Therefore she wrote another book called “Behind You”. After the terrorist attack on 9th of September Woodson thought about the life after loosing a loved one.

Several strange things...

There is a lot of rudeness of Ellie towards her mother. She names her Marion instead of mom because her mother refuses to call her Ellie instead of Elisha. As long as her mother calls her Elisha, she will call her Marion.
It is also rude to judge about the relationship of her parents or even to talk about it. This should not be of her business. It is the same with having doubt of the love of her parents. In chapter 15 Ellie asks her sister if they ever loved each other.
In fact her mother once left the family but she came back. This should be done and over and not mentioned through the rest of her life. Elli uses it against her for example in chapter 18. In a conversation with her mother she says: “What do you deserve, Marion? You went away-just left-boom-out of here.” Later she tells her: “Believe it or not, everything isn’t about you”. Ellie seems to be a fickle teenager.  

On page 103 Elisha tells Jeremiah that her parents named her after a city they have travelled to. However there is no Sidney in Australia. Woodson probably meant Sydney (which is in Australia). Why did Woodson spell it like this? Is it a typing mistake or did she do it on purpose?  

What the book is about

Woodson introduces an interracial couple. There is a black boy called Jeremiah who meets a white girl called Ellie at a private school in Manhattan. They are both fifteen years old and come from an upper class of society. From the beginning the reader can assume that they will probably fall in love and according to several hints they will have trouble with the fact that they are black and white. 

Ellie seems to have a great relationship to her older sister Anne. When Ellie tells Anne about a boy on the phone she is very interested. But when Ellie told about the fact that the boy Ellie likes is black she is not exited anymore. “I just think to have a boyfriend or girlfriend from a different race is really hard” (p. 56-57) Anne is lesbian and should know best that it is hard to stand for ones own feelings, if it is not the cultural norm or the certain way a society expects you to be.   
When Ellie talks with her father about Jeremiah he asks about what his parents are doing and sums up: when he is nice and smart they can be friends. Until now Ellie had no need to tell them that he is black.
In Chapter 11 Ellie and Jeremiah start to get closer and get to know each other better. When they walk through Central Park an older woman asks Ellie if she is alright because a black boy is walking next to her. They have to experience a couple of similar occurrences. The stupidity of people reacting towards the fact that a white girl has a black boyfriend is mentioned several times. At the end of this chapter Jeremiah asks Ellie if he could kiss her. Isn’t that a strange question? The first kiss should be a magic moment when both come together at the same time. This question ruins the whole atmosphere. However Ellie agreed and they had their first kiss. The whole development of their story and especially this conversation is superficial and predictable. Personally I am more than happy that I never had this weird situation.

Author / Title

“If you come softly” was written by Jacqueline Woodson in 1998. She is a three-time Newbery Honor winner. With this book she won three awards: ALA Best Book for Young Adults, Award Nominee (all readers) and in 2001 the Detroit Public Library Author’s Day Award.
According to her web side ( she wrote the book on Whidbey Island (close to Seattle), Washington and in New York.
Woodson wanted to write about the very first love implying difficulties and greatness. Personally she well remembers her own youth. The overall topic of “If you come softly” can be compared to Romeo and Juliet. 
The title of the book might bring some readers a first perverse impression. Because “to come” in everyday language can also mean to have an ejaculation. However Jacqueline Woodson was inspired by the poem from Audre Lorde which starts with the first four lines:
If you come softly
as the wind within the trees
you may hear what I hear
see what sorrow sees.
If you come softly: The title is written in a typeface close to Lucida Calligraphy which looks a little romantic and therefore (this is a well known stereotype) girlish.

The front picture on the book cover links to a romance because of the atmosphere: A girl and a boy facing each other in a lonely, romantic, wintery, snowy park. The street lights sheen through the snowy air. The cloths of the two young adults are fairly modern. The colour of the title is between blueviolet and darkorchid which is rather girlish (stereotype as well). 
On the back of the book is a picture of Jacqueline Woodson. Since the topic of the book deals with racism and the conflict of two young black and white adults the reader might be influence trough the picture of a black author. It would be same with a picture of a white author. People tend to think that authors write about their own perspective because they usually transfer a message. But since the lyrical I is the white girl there is no further hint that Woodson writes about personal experience. This would have been different if Woodson would have chosen a black girl and a white boy. Or does it make no difference?