Welcome to Week 3 of the Online Book Club discussion of If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin.
What did you think of the reading this week? Did you feel like you got a better understanding of all of the characters, or do you feel like you still have a lot of questions?
At the beginning of this section, we see the scene where Fonny and Tish announce to her family that they would like to get married. I thought the way her family reacted was very realistic. They were cautious because both Tish and Fonny are young, and they understood that the pair would face a lot of difficulties, but they realized that they were in love and could not be torn from each other. I appreciated the love that Tish's parents showed to her. They were very concerned about her and her needs and wants.
Then, the story jumps back to the present, and we see that the woman who has accused Fonny of rape has disappeared. What do you think her disappearance means? Do you think she disappeared because the police officer who claims to have seen Fonny running from the crime knew that her accusations wouldn't hold up in court? Did he want to be the only voice in the case? Officer Bell is a corrupt police officer, for sure. He appears to have told the victim who to accuse, and he has been accused of racist behavior in the past. In fact, later in this section, we find that Officer Bell has been accused of killing a young boy, and instead of being prosecuted, he was transferred to another precinct.
One thing that I found to be so sad in Fonny's case was the fact that his alibi was not considered to be trustworthy because the only people who could corroborate his story were Black. Isn't that heartbreaking? The police didn't even care about the story of two human beings who could vouch for Fonny because they were Black.
At the end of this section, we find out that Tish's mother is going to travel to Puerto Rico to try to find the woman who accused Fonny, and they're hoping that this woman will change her story. Do you think that will happen? One thing I appreciated in this section was the fact that Tish brought up the question of whether or not the woman was raped, and her sister shut down that line of questioning. I think in this situation, it would be really easy to shame or attack the victim, but Ernestine gave this woman her dignity and reminded Tish that the police officer is the one who is in the wrong, not a woman who was violently attacked and was pressured to pick her attacker in a line-up. What do you think Tish's mother will find in Puerto Rico? Do you think she will be able to exonerate Fonny?
Did you catch the part where Tish explains how different people treat her when they are smelling the perfume she sells. The white men definitely treat her differently than the other men do. It was really sad to read how they made her feel uncomfortable. And, it was sad how, when she was in the crowded subway, she had to wonder if a man was pushing up against her because they meant her harm or if they just had to be close because of the nature of the subway.
This section ends with both Fonny and his friend Daniel looking pretty hopeless. Fonny is desperate to get out of jail, and Daniel is still healing from his former jail sentence and now is in custody again. It doesn't look like either one is going to be treated justly, and I'm not sure how the story can end happily for either. What do you think? Is there hope for either man?
If you'd like to see some of the actors who played parts in the movie version talk about the movie, check out the clip below.
Make sure to finish the book for next week! I'm excited to hear your thoughts about this section. Make sure to leave a comment to tell me what you thought!