2011 Christopher Essay

Essay by Christopher Abdella – 2011
Hillary Jordan does well to illustrate a community of struggling individuals, trapped in the effort to not only survive, but to make something more of themselves. Bound most by the hateful hand of southern society are the African-Americans. But when one starts so low in the hierarchy, they are inevitably given more potential to excel.
Ronsel Jackson portrays such logic. His determination, will power, and his own unique ‘shine’ lay the foundations for achieving more than what the general public would give him credit for. Southern racism degraded his morality, and that of the entire Jackson family, to the point where they felt helpless against the wealth and stature of the White Man.
Stripped of all his liberty and dignity, Ronsel is utterly trapped at the hands of the hateful Ku Klux Klan, headed by a number of his own fellow townspeople. This punishment was unjustifiable to the crime, a crime of love and acceptance in a foreign land. The former tank commander, heralded a hero in World War II on the European front, was reduced to something less than human. Ronsel was lucky to escape with nothing gone but his pride and his tongue.
Now bound by the color of his skin, his grief for his distant lover and son, and his status as a mute, Ronsel had little left to live for. But it wasn’t in the aspiring young man’s nature to give into his sufferings, wallowing in self-pity. Though it’s not in plain text, we as readers know that the ‘shine’ of Ronsel Jackson endured the pain, overcame it, and strived in his new life. He goes on to get a college education, a loving wife and family, overcomes alcoholism, and find a job suitable to his physical handicap. This leads me to believe that Ronsel best frees himself from his bondage, the trapped existence of rural Mississippi.

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