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Who is a Beede?

Bdragon's picture

    Some people receive their characteristics from genetics, but their identity could from other places. A person can develop their identity from their family, because usually they are the ones who influence their beliefs and values. Then their beliefs and values usually determine how they are as a person. Although there are people who do not want to be like the rest of their family, and try to diverge to create their own identity.  Personally, I know some families where most of the members of the family all hold similar characteristics. In Susan-Lori Parks novel, Getting Mother’s Body, everyone in the town knows what it means to be a Beede, but the characters diverge from that stereotype.

     What does it mean to be a Beede? Dill Smiles says “I don’t got no time for no jalopy... a Beede would have time but a Smiles would not” (35). One characteristic of a Beede is that they waste their time on nonsense and create more problems for themselves. According to Roosevelt Beede, a Beede is “able to bear the unbearable” (107). Second characteristic is that such out of the ordinary and hard to believe events happen to them, that they have gotten accustomed to it. Estelle “Star” Beede believes that a Beede will “just show up on your front doorstep smelling of sweat and saying they’re hungry” (135). Another characteristic is that they are just all over the place, and do as they place without consideration of others. Many people also refer to their bad luck as “Beede luck” since many unfortunate events seem to gravitate towards them. Although is it fair to categorize everyone in the Beede family as similar?

       Whether they like it or not most of the Beede’s talked about in the novel all somehow fit this description. Billy is very vocal about she does not like to be compared to her mother, but from the beginning one can see the strong similarities. Willa Mae had two babies from different fathers and she was not even married to either of them. Dill describes as Billy having “her baby-belly and no husband…father-she-ain’t- never knowd run off and dead probably; mother run wild and dead certainly” (48). This goes back to the “Beede Luck” where unbelievable and absurd situations happen to the member of the Beede family.  Additionally, Wille Mae and Billy also set themselves for doom, which is part of being a Beede since they attract mayhem. Than Dill says how she’s a “young bastard girl child took in by dirt poor filling-station-running-childless minister Uncle and one-legged crutch hopping aunt” (48).  Not only does Dill talk about how Billy has bad luck but Roosevelt also suffers from “Beede luck”. He lost his chance of being a minister, did not marry the ideal woman, and is stuck in poverty. It is not just to say that just because someone is a Beede they will ultimately fit the definition. On the other hand, Billy, Willa Mae, and Roosevelt have many similarities in their life that fall in the definition of who is a Beede.

       Although I do not believe that Beede family just because it what it means to be a Beede, but the fact that they already come from a low level in society. Billy wanted to have a brighter future for herself such as going to school to do hair, which goes against the definition of a Beede. Unfortunately, Billy does not pursue that anymore because she gets pregnant and has not focus on getting enough money to support herself. I don’t think it is because she has bad luck, but also because she does not have a mother to guide her in the right way. Usually a person has some to look up to, but Billy does not have a good mother figure to her right from wrong. Willa Mae might have also not had a good mother figure, so that is the reason why she turned out the way she is. Then this turns into a snowball effect where the next child won’t have a mother figure and they also go down a wrong path. Same thing for Roosevelt he never came from a family with money, so he always stayed in poverty since always had to work for whatever job he could get. In his instance he got stuck with a gas station that does not make any money, and he is always working so he cannot go to school to better his future. If he had come from a rich family maybe he would not be living the same lifestyle. He tried to become a minister and do something with his life that he was passionate about, but he ultimately failed. The Beede family all share a common characteristic because they do not have the right resources in order to be any different.

   The members of Beede family all share a similar identity because they have all been taught one thing. In the end they are able to get past their stereotypical family identity, where Billy gets married, Roosevelt gets his church, and June get her prosthetic leg. It is possible for someone to diverge from the Beede definition. Their family reputation is not what forms their identity, how they differ from that determines who they are as a person.


Anne Dalke's picture

You begin this project with great attention to textual detail; you’ve combed the novel for all the examples of “Beede-ism,” every case where the characteristics of being a Beede are named (and either embraced or refused), except maybe Star saying that she’s “risen above her Beedeism”! Nice job!

You do this in order to take on here a central theme of Parks’ novel, that of inheritance. How much of the Beedes—and all our?--lives are determined by the genetic packages we arrive with? How much free will do we have to alter those scripts? You answer this question in your conclusion, claiming that “their family reputation is not what forms their identity,” that instead “how they differ from that determines who they are as a person.”

I’m wondering if you might both trouble and extend that claim in your revision. There are a couple of “cracks” already embedded in your argument (for me, these are the spots where papers always get most interesting!).

You say, for instance, that Billy doesn’t pursue “a brighter future” “because she does not have a mother to guide her in the right way.” But having a mother to guide you would enable you to reproduce the family characteristics, to become your mother (see Calliope’s draft on this @ /oneworld/changing-our-story-2016/3pp-rough-draft-getting-mothers-body .) You go on to say that “this turns into a snowball effect where the next child won’t have a mother figure and they also go down a wrong path.” But isn’t what you call the “wrong path” here the family path? You also claim that, since Roosevelt “never came from a family with money,” “he always stayed in poverty….If he had come from a rich family, maybe he would not be living the same lifestyle…the Beede family…[does] not have the right resources in order to be any different….” But don’t rich families reproduce themselves as much as poor ones do, raising their children to behave like the parents? Don’t all families “share a similar identity because they have all been taught one thing”?

So though the arc of the paper tends towards a single conclusion, it seems as though the evidence you’ve gathered suggests a more complex story. What are the ways in which the Beedes duplicate themselves, despite their intentions to live otherwise? And what conclusions might you draw from that paradox?

Oh, and attending for a moment to grammar (as we promised one another to do): locate the sentence fragment in the center of paragraph 1, another at the beginning of paragraph 4, and the run-on sentence w/ which you conclude the piece. Then please write out a correction for all 3 sentences before you come to your conference.

And looking forward to seeing where you can go with this,