Reading Journal for Best American Essays 2006

Edited by Lauren Slater

“Beginning Dialogues” / Toi Derricotte

With commentary by: Hannah


November 22, 2007 - Posted by | Uncategorized

1 Comment »

  1. The pace at which Toi Derricotte relays information to the reader about her mom and the relationship they had is important in this piece of writing. At first she tells us that she doesn’t miss her mother after she has died and we are almost made to believe that she is confused by this lack of feeling. She recalls feeling “guilty for not feeling enough happiness at Christmas, after (her) mother’s great efforts”(50), as if somehow her unhappiness was not a product of their relationship. It’s not until the next paragraph when she mentions her mother’s “destruction” that we catch that she is actually aware of why she’s not grieving. She goes on to describe the pain her mother inflicted on her when she was alive, the ways she made her fearful. But just when the reader starts to assume that Derricotte’s mother was a one-dimensional character, she also begins to relay memories of love and care. “She told me all my life she loved me, as if she completely forgot the hundred slights, humiliations, threats and insinuations”(52). The way Derricotte describes her mother’s duality seems to say something about the condition of family relationships, how they require a specific kind of attention that can be more easily broken in other kinds of relationships.

    Comment by Hannah | February 17, 2008

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