Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Reflections on Death and Dignity 
by Studs Terkel

This is a very serious book. It is a compilation of many interviews from paramedics, police, fire-fighters, doctors and the recently bereaved. This book is published in 2001. I do not know whether the author was trying to focus on certain individuals, because there are quite a few interviews talking about gays who have died of AIDS. My intention was to find the book “Working” by Studs Terkel for reading, however as I could not find it for now, this is the first book I endded up reading by Terkel.

In this book, I learnt more about gay people, AIDS and racial discrimination. There are certain extracts that I find it quite useful and it really makes an impression on me.

Surprisingly his introduction let me understand the behaviour of an older person better.
Naturally, when I pick up a newspaper these days, the first place I turn to isn’t sports, or arts, or the business of business ,or the op-eds. I immediately turn to the obituaries.

Some other extracts that strike me are as following :

Mamie Mobley : She is a retired Chicago public school teacher. In 1955, her 14 year old son, Emmett Till, was killed while visiting relatives in Mississippi. He was her only child. Two white men, Roy Bryant and W.K. Milam were accused of murder. Thought the evidence against them was overwhelming, they were acquainted by an all-white jury.

When I lost my son, that’s when I found out that I really had two feet and I had to stand on my own feet. I had to stand and be a woman. The undertaker unzipped the bag. And that’s when I saw all that lime. They hosed him down. And, oh my God, I knew what that odor was by then. It was not the lime, that was my son I was smelling. When I went to look at one of his eyes, this one was lying on his cheek. But I saw the color of it. I said, “That’s my son’s eye.” I looked over at the other and it was as if somebody had taken a nut picker and just picked it out. There was no eye.

The interview was very short and the book did not really explain about this Emmett Till case. However when I read the story in wikipedia, I was really touched and felt sad of the racial discrimation in people.

Protected by double jeopardy, Bryant and Milam struck a deal with Look magazine in 1956 to tell their story to William Bradford Huie for between $3,600 and $4,000. The interview took place in the law firm of the attorneys who had defended Bryant and Milam. Huie did not ask the questions; Bryant and Milam’s own attorneys did. They had never heard the story before either. According to Huie, Milam was more articulate, older, and sure of himself than Bryant. Milam admitted to shooting Till and neither of them thought of themselves as guilty or that they had done anything wrong.[79] Following their interview, however, their support base eroded in Mississippi.[80] Blacks refused to shop at their stores, they went bankrupt, and were unable to secure loans from banks to plant crops

Harper Lee published the book “To kill a MockingBird” in which a white attorney is committed to defend a black man named Tom Robinson accused of raping a white woman. Lee whose novel had a profound effect on civil rights, has not publicly stated Robinson’s origins, but literature professor Patrick Chura notes several similarities between Till’s case and that of Robinson.

I remembered reading this book “To kill a MockingBird” for my “O” levels literature exam more than 10 over years ago. The first time I read the book, I actually cried while reading it. It is the first time a book has such an effect on me.


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