Esther’s Space- journey through my life

November 15, 2007

Apex~ the hidey game (2)

Filed under: p()5t^^()d3,~]\[ — estherspace @ 9:59 pm

Something that really struck me about this middle portion of Apex Hides the Hurt was the black vs. white dichotomy in Freedom/Winthrop/New Prospera.  I know we discussed it a bit in class, but, probably because it’s a major focus of my paper, I sensed some serious colonization/postcolonization discourse vibes.

The entire recorded history of the town is based on a tradition of dispossession.  Those who discuss it suppose that the story truly begins with Winthrop’s entering of the area, but that is certainly not the case.  Before Winthrop, there were the people of Freedom, but before them, it is very likely that there were some other natives, especially since the the town was located on such a valuable river that could connect it with the rest of the world.

So, there were the natives, who are never mentioned, who are displaced (I assume) by the black settlers who begin to refer the the area as “Freedom.”  Though not original to the land, they become, through generations of living, closely connected to it, and when Winthrop enters the picture, they appear to be ‘natives’ of the area as far as he is aware.  And, much like the settlers of Freedom had done, he colonized the indigenous people and imposed his own ideals on the village.  In the same vein, when Lucky enters the town, he does his own version of colonization, except this time it is not a clear distinction between white and black ideas, but instead it is a colonization through imposing technology.  As one of the characters notes, Winthrop has become a “company town”, in exactly the same process that it had first become a freed slave town, and then an American dream town in the frontier spirit.

A specific part of the text that sparked all of this takes place when Regina is giving the nomenclature consultant, or as I like to call him, Nomenclature Guy, a tour of the old and new parts of the city.  In defense of her support for calling the town Freedom once again, Regina tells the story of how each section of town could be identified by how the streets were named.  She said, “How you know you’re home is when you see your name on the street” (128).  My immediate thought was that Albie probably felt exactly the same way, but with a different set of names.

After all that, my mind is teeming with questions about the pre-Freedom people that were likely to have lived in the area, and I am wondering about how each supporter for the town’s name is coming to the table with different arguments as to why their name is most appropriate, but that all of these individuals are using the same techniques that they claim to detest in the others’ approaches, but no one is taking a moment to self-reflexively investigate what their names are about beyond a very specific emotion reason.  If that sentence makes any sense.

Personally, I think New Prospera is a crappy name, and not ‘just old enough to be cool again’ because Florida developments are teeming with names like that.  What the town needs is something like Apex, something that sounds great and can come to mean something to the people, but doesn’t have any background of potentially offensive meaning.

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