Die Heuning Pot Literature Guide
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Quotes

Quote #1

"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." (1.14)

"Beg to differ, Garner. Ain't no nigger men."

Does this make Garner any more sympathetic a character? Or is a slaveowner a slaveowner a slaveowner?

Quote #2

"Mister, he looked so… free. Better than me. Stronger, tougher. Son a bitch couldn't even get out of the shell hisself but he was still king and I was…" Paul D stopped and squeezed his left hand with his right. He held it that way long enough for it and the world to quiet down and let him go on.

"Mister was allowed to be and stay what he was. But I wasn't allowed to be and stay what I was. Even if you cooked him you'd be cooking a rooster named Mister. But wasn't no way I'd ever be Paul D again, living or dead. Schoolteacher changed me. I was something else and that something was less than a chicken sitting in the sun on a tub." (8.102-103)

Mister the rooster is the man. So much so that Paul D refers to Mister's super-red coxcomb more than once as a way of highlighting how Paul D falls short because of slavery. And yes, if you're starting to read into the whole red coxcomb thing, go right on ahead.

Quote #3

By the time they unhitched him from the wagon and he saw nothing but dogs and two shacks in the world of sizzling grass, the roiling blood was shaking him to and fro. But no one could tell. The wrists he held out for the bracelets that evening were steady as were the legs he stood on when chains were attached to the leg irons. But when they shoved him into the box and dropped the cage door down, his hands quit taking instruction. On their own, they traveled. Nothing could stop them or get their attention. They would not hold his penis to urinate or a spoon to scoop lumps of lima beans into his mouth. The miracle of their obedience came with the hammer at dawn. (10.2)

Yes, Paul D is almost getting buried alive; his prison cell is more or less like a coffin in the ground. If this scene doesn't get you thinking about the horrors and abuse of slavery as well as life on a chain gang, we don't know will. P.S. Check out how not even the personified hands listen to Paul D.

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