Men and Masculinity Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
"Y'all got boys," he told them. "Young boys, old boys, picky boys, stroppin boys. Now at Sweet Home, my niggers is men every one of em. Bought em thataway, raised em thataway. Men every one."
"Beg to differ, Garner. Ain't no nigger men."
"Not if you scared, they ain't." Garner's smile was wide. "But if you a man yourself, you'll want your niggers to be men too."
"I wouldn't have no nigger men round my wife."
It was the reaction Garner loved and waited for. "Neither would I," he said. "Neither would I," and there was always a pause before the neighbor, or stranger, or peddler, or brother-in-law or whoever it was got the meaning. Then a fierce argument, sometimes a fight, and Garner came home bruised and please, having demonstrated one more time what a real Kentuckian was: one tough enough and smart enough to make and call his own niggers men. (1.80-84)
On the one hand, Garner seems like a pretty cool guy. He's willing to go against the grain—publicly—and call "his own niggers men." On the other hand, we're a little disturbed by Garner. For starters, he still owns these men; plus, it's almost like he's bragging about his ability to manage his "niggers" like "men" in order to show how masculine and tough he is. So he's using his slaves to showcase his identity. We're definitely nowhere near equality with Garner.
And so they were: Paul D Garner, Paul F Garner, Paul A Garner, Halle Suggs and Sixo, the wild man. All in their twenties, minus women, fucking cows, dreaming of rape, thrashing on pallets, rubbing their thighs and waiting for the new girl—the one who took Baby Suggs' place after Halle bought her with five years of Sundays. (1.85)
All the Sweet Home men have one thing that ties them together: the lack of women and sex. It's like a guy's locker room, only on a Southern plantation.
They were a twosome, saying "Your daddy" and "Sweet Home" in a way that made it clear both belonged to them and not to her. That her own father's absence was not hers. Once the absence had belonged to Grandma Baby—a son, deeply mourned because he was the one who had bought her out of there. Then it was her mother's husband. Now it was this hazelnut stranger's absent friend. Only those who knew him ("knew him well") could claim his absence for themselves. (1.102)
Denver feels left out of Sethe and Paul D's conversation about Halle. Sad, isn't it? Denver was fatherless and lonely before—now it's even worse. Which is why it's so promising that she and Paul D get along at the carnival a few chapters later.