Systemic Prejudice In There, There By Jacquie Traumas

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Charles Kirsch 1/20/23 Ms. Rodriguez English 10-4 A Woman’s Right to Choose: The Effects of Systemic Prejudice in There, There There, There by Tommy Orange tells the interconnected stories of several Native American people who live (or end up living) in Oakland, California. Jacquie Red Feather, part of a family line that ends up tying together many of the characters, is a very recently recovering alcoholic who works as a substance abuse counselor. She has suffered many traumas ranging from rape to the suicide of her daughter, and, in the first chapter narrated by her in the book, is finding her path to sobriety and responsibility. Growing up as a Native American girl made Jacquie especially vulnerable to societal and interpersonal oppression, …show more content…

After her daughter’s suicide, Jacquie fell so deeply into alcoholism that her sister Opal ended up adopting her three grandchildren. In her initial chapter, she is, as a newly sober person, in the process of deciding to move back to Oakland and be with those family members. In a climactic moment, Jacquie wraps up bottles of alcohol from the hotel in a towel and brings them down to the pool with her, as if to save them. She ends up doing the opposite: “Jacquie got out of the pool and went to the towel. She heaved the bundle back, then threw it high into the air, into the water….She watched the bottles sink to the bottom…The text she sent to Opal was just this: If i come to oakland, can i stay?” (117). Earlier in the book, Jacquie states the ways in which both alcoholism and her life on the road make things easier for her: she’s gotten so used to drinking after the depression caused by her rape and pregnancy that she depends on it for sleep, and the lack of stability that her shifting circumstances have left her with from childhood on has also meant she hasn’t had to make a real commitment to any one set of circumstances. In the passage, though, she reveals a sense of relief about giving up both. By describing the bottles as “sink(ing) to the bottom,” she shows that alcoholism represents a weight that was holding her down rather than a crutch that was letting her survive. Jacquie asks her sister the plaintive question “can i stay?” which suggests that she is finally ready to commit to a home and a long-term relationship, which she had never really done before. It’s significant that both of these decisions are of her own volition because they are some of the first major ones she makes as someone who can fully control her path. The most surprising choice she makes is to reconnect

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