I was thinking about this towards the end of class and came up with a coherent thought as soon as the clock struck 9:49 (as I often do). Given the complicated personal relationships and dramatic family trees, it’s difficult to make sense of what is truly happening in the novel. Each chapter explores different relationships and it feels, to me, that we are learning so much about the characters and the drama and gossip that surrounds their lives. We are getting so many different perspectives and because of the ubiquitous gossip it’s hard to tell what is fact or not. The outside dialogue, the speech from President McKinley, the sign “NO YAYAS SWIMMING IN THE POOL” provide some grounding and tie the reader to reality when Hagedorn makes reality and truth so hard to understand. Of course, these passages come with their own “truths” and therefore their own lies but they are more objective than the gossip from the characters. They are a step outside of the gossip and maybe more importantly, they provide a frame for the personal stories that the bulk of the novel is. McKinley’s speech does not reference a character, but it provides context for the characters in a more objective sense. Again, clearly still not objective and cannot be trusted entirely because of McKinley’s white man burden rant and “his sleeping soundly.” But maybe that’s the point? That reality and truth are always subjective? That everyone’s perspectives will always be challenged? What is Truth? Did anyone read it this way, too?
purpose of outside dialogue (?)