Why Is Tayari Jones The Toxic Silence

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In an essay entitled “The Toxic Silence” written in support of further investigation into the Atlanta Child Murders, Tayari Jones recounts a memory from her days at Spelman College. While attending school, she also worked as a tutor for a fourth-grader named Jemmie who she would pick up from his bus stop before their lesson. One day Jemmie never arrived at his bus stop. Jones says she was alarmed to the point that her “heart [was] splashing in [her] chest” as she “doubled over, clutching [her] stomach, and vomited on the corner of Ashby and Fair”; once she collected herself she asked her dorm mates to form a search party. Later after finding Jemmie safe at a neighbor’s house, she realized that every dorm mate in her search party had been born …show more content…

For those in Atlanta, this fear is what GerShun Avilez calls a “social phenomenon” (Avilez). The fear had seeped its way into the very core of Atlanta natives, haunting them over a decade later. Tayari Jones, in Leaving Atlanta, has a unique purpose to “domesticate fear” (Harris). She takes the perspectives of three fifth graders, Tash, Rodney, and Octavia, and shows their experiences of the murders while portraying the different affects fear has on the community. More specifically, she explains how the murders affect the relationships between people and the relationships within families. The phenomenon of this fear does not solely lie within its longevity but in its ability to tear apart, bring together, and …show more content…

Avilez is right when she says family-not the serial violence per se-is the source of dread and fear” (The Aesthetic of Terror) because the killer sparks the fear that links every story: the fear of losing a child. This distinct fear is seen in every section. Charles, Rodney’s Father, and Yvonne are all afraid of their children being taken. It is the driving force behind their actions, whether these actions join or tear apart their families. Jones shows how fear can cause people to make mistakes even though their intentions are based in love. Each fear leads to different actions which lead to different consequences, but these consequences are rooted in the relationships and dynamic within each family. Tasha’s love for her father, Rodney’s fear of his father, and Octavia’s independence lead them to make their decisions whether those decisions lead to survival or

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