Time And Distance Overcome Analysis

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Time and Distance Overcome
Every time a new life-altering invention is introduced to the world, the device may be used for ill intentions, no matter the good intentions, the well-meant possibilities and the true purposes of said invention. The telephone is no exception. “Time and Distance Overcome” by Eula Biss from 2008 points out the twisted and revolting ways the telephone poles were being used, or rather misused, during the first few years of its existence.
The text contains two obvious themes; the invention of the telephone by Alexander Bell and its history alongside the telephone pole’s use as a weapon in the race riots against the African Americans in this period. The underlying theme is that the telephone is meant to bring people together
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It starts out in a positive manner with the description of the history connected to the invention of the telephone. It’s describes as something “that could see us all connected through one branching cable” (p. 2, l. 17) and it ends on a summer day where “telephone poles grew small leafy branches”. In-between those utopic first and last lines lies the history of racism towards the African Americans and how telephone poles played a role. As a result, you can essentially place the text in 3 different parts: The invention of the telephone, the story revolving around the lynchings. This is an interesting part as it makes you think about the cruelty in the world. Even though we know that the Negroes were not particularly accepted in the US at the time, the very lengths that people would go to for their beliefs is extremely disturbing. Finally the story comes to a close by describing the personal story of Eula Biss, who “Believed that he telephone itself was a miracle” as a child. All these stories are strung…show more content…
She draws parallels between the war on telephone poles and the racism towards the African American, criticizing the American civilization and society. She says that the war on telephone poles was powered “by that terribly American concern for private property and a reluctance to surrender it to a shared utility”. The Whites’ dislike of the poles is possibly a symbol of the dislike towards the African American. The typical white American of this period is portrayed as evil and close minded and the telephone poles are interfering with the white territory – just like the African American. A “fear, that distance, as it had always been known and measured, was collapsing” which can be read as if the white Americans of that day feared that segregation at one point might collapse and evaporate. Moreover Biss questions the human ability to adapt towards innovation. There are also strong indications that the regular human mind does not develop or adapts as fast as technology (The whites cutting off poles). Her intention with the essay is on one hand to tell a gruesome story of the treatment that the African Americans was given by the white American. How new inventions can be used as something entirely different than first intended in order to reach a different, sometime malicious goal. On the other
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