This quote hits me hard. It's like a bullet of understanding that pierces my heart for young Ruth. Because it's so chilling that they take this child's dream- this child's fear of her altered view of life- and receives it as a norm. Even her mother laughs about the situation, telling her that's what the world is made of. And when I had come to think about the italicized words of the page, I realized I was told the same things as the young Ruth. My parents had engraved in me that the world, especially the Americas, were a place of freedom; a place of opportunity and a good life. However, life would be a living pit of fire for my heart, as I would constantly be pushed away, abused, and neglected by society because of my culture. In that moment, more than relating with Ruth because of my mother's identical occupation, more than her struggles in her work field, I related to Ruth Jefferson through ways of upbringing that set her mind and attitude into the way it was when facing the world.
Did You Know?
- Picoult was inspired to pursue writing this novel after reading about an identical news article about a black nurse in Michigan who sued the hospital after a white man had called her supervisor and requested that the nurse and no one like her should touch his baby.
- While deciding to write a book about racism, Picoult originally decided she wanted to write about a African cop who was shot four times by his white co-officers. However, she decided not to continue the story, as she couldn't truly find an authentic path to follow with it.
Ruth provides an excerpt from her childhood in the house in which her mother was a maid in. She describes having a dream in which the colorful house they were staying sudden begin to blotch with black and white splatters and color is rapidly disappearing within the house. Soon, her and the rest of the house are monochrome and she wakes up screaming, alerting her mother and the owners of the house. As she explains to them that all she couldn't see any color of the world and they laugh at her, you see the symbolism present in the quote. It shows that, from the mature eyes of the adults, having nothing but a colorless world was normal; all they can tell is the difference between black and white. It didn't matter if you were a light-skinned African American, in a monochrome-understood society, you would still translate to the dark shade of film-black. This symbolism that just like her dream where it didn't matter if all the hues of the world vanished, the black still be seen in comparison to the white, it didn't matter if the African Americans were given their freedom and the slavery had disappeared, the world would still discriminate against them for the tone of their appearance.
This painting by Daniel Brici connect well with the thematic statement that before you are even fully created, fully known to the world of who you are, the color that paints your skin, paints the factors that will affect your path of life.
This connects with Small Great Things in many occurrences of Ruth's career. In many scenes, Ruth greets the patients with love, only to be doubted on her abilities to care for their child; as though she hasn't done this routine for the past twenty years. Many doubt her education and work ethic before she has even made a sound from her mouth- all because of her skin tone. They made assumptions before she was able to fully become a human in their eyes- just because her smooth obsidian flesh muted their ability to see an breed of the same species.
This painting connects to the quote in showing the blotching color on the child's skin. For my perspective, I was able to look at it as the colors fading away, etching away to the skin and stretches of the child's appearance, showing a monochrome side to the girl.
This piece of artwork makes a connection to me when I think of what I wish for the world. I wish that the world would look at each other for nothing but the anatomy of our bodies, not the color of our skin. I sometime wish, sadly, that this world did not have the color of nude, that we were all clear- almost a membrane consistency, as weird as it sounds. But sometimes it seems to be the only possible way to stop the racism and discrimination that has still never stopped in our world today.