Welcome to the final discussion of If Beale Street Could Talk by James Baldwin.
How did you feel about the end of the book? Did it end like you expected it would? I wish there could have been a happier ending, but that wouldn't be true to life or true to the experiences of so many people.
At the beginning of this section, we finally begin to understand how Fonny got on the radar of the corrupt cop, Officer Bell. Tish is attacked by a man on the street, and she slaps him and spits in his face/ This causes Fonny to beat the man up, and it catches the attention of Officer Bell. Bell assumes that Fonny started the whole fight, and then, he is publically reprimanded by lady who owns the store where the incident occurred. I think, because he was embarrassed and insulted by that lady, he decided to reclaim his power by later arresting Fonny without cause. Is that how you interpreted the incident. It's hard not to wonder if the shop owner made the situation worse, but, then again, Bell was set to take Fonny off to jail right then, so he would be in jail either way. It was a lose-lose situation. It's especially sad that all of this started because a man hurt Tish and Fonny was just trying to protect her. I was surprised by how many times Officer Bell crossed paths with Fonny and Tish before he finally arrested Fonny. He was just biding his time until he could find a crime to pin on Fonny. He was such a scary man.
What did you think of Tish's mom's experience in Puerto Rico? Did everything go the way you thought it would? I had a hard time thinking Victoria would change her story. She was a scared woman who had endured violence, and who knows what the police officers from her case threatened her with. I couldn't imagine that she would revisit the incident and change her accusation. It was hard to read how Sharon tried so hard to get Victoria and Pietro to see her side of the story, but they can't. They are too broken and scared.
In this section, Tish commits to visiting Fonny every day to keep his spirits up. I'm sure it wasn't fun for her to see Fonny in that position every day, but he lost so much hope when she couldn't come every day. It was hard to read the discussions between Fonny and Tish at the end of the book. They love each other so much, and Tish really wants to help, but I think they both understand that they can't do anything to clear Fonny. It was hard to read their conversation. And, it was hard to see Fonny deteriorate in jail.
I was shocked when Fonny's dad was found dead at the end. I didn't see that coming. It was just more heartbreak in a really sad book.
The end of the book is pretty ambiguous. Do you think Fonny was able to get out on bail? We learn that Ernestine got the rest of the money, but do you think it was enough? Do you think he stayed in prison and missed the birth of their baby? I don't know how to interpret the ending, but I find it hard to imagine that he would be let out of jail on bail. I just feel like the powers that be were determined to leave him in prison.
I hope you enjoyed readng along with us this month! If you enjoyed this book and want to read or watch something similar, check out this list I created. Make sure to let me know if you check out anything on the list.
Finally, if you'd like to watch a really interesting interview about the book with the movie's director, check out the clip below. And, if you'd like more information about the actors from the movie, check out this clip.
Thanks for following along this month! Make sure to leave a comment to let me know how the reading experience was for you this month! And, join us again next month as we read Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.