Jubie is disciplined more harshly than her siblings, especially her "perfect" sister Stell. What does this treatment tell us about her family's dynamic?
Join Date: 10/15/10
Join Date: 11/14/11
I kept waiting for a reason- I even wondered if Bill resented Jubie...maybe Bill wasn't Jubie's father and Paula had had an affair with another man? I never did understand why Jubie was treated the way she was by her father especially, and Paula just let it happen.
I wonder if Jubie was just too spirited, and she wasn't easy for her parents to understand? No excuse at all for the way she was treated.
Now we call this a dysfunctional family. That term wasn't used then, but we hear it described that way now.
Join Date: 04/21/11
Join Date: 10/15/10
As Susan says, singling out one child to abuse is relatively common and even the experts seem to be at a loss to explain it. This article discusses the issue but without any clear answers, the comments section is particularly heart breaking to read: http://www.child-abuse-effects.com/why-parents-target-a-specific-child-for-abuse.html
Join Date: 10/16/10
Like Jeann, I kept waiting for more explanation on this as well. I read Jubie as more kind, thoughtful, and attentive than her sisters. Mary definitely saw this, too. Jubie's behavior was typical of any high-spirited trouble maker, but she was (mostly) well-intentioned. I think Paula liked Stell because she was pretty and didn't make trouble. Puddin seemed to be in the middle. From a narrative perspective, though, I think Mayhew needed Jubie to be an outsider, too. Because Jubie knows what it feels like to "not to belong" and to be treated unfairly, she has insights into Mary's experience that the others don't. It gives her more room for sympathy with Mary than it does for the others. I don't think Jubie, herself, thought about it like that, but I think it makes the most sense for the story that Jubie, too, was kept out of the "mainstream," which in this case was her family.
As far as the family dynamics, Jubie's abuse highlights very quickly and in sharp relief her parents' key character traits: Paula is ineffective, weak, and selfish; Bill is harsh, out of control, self focused, and mean.
Join Date: 11/14/11
Hadn't thought of it that way, but sarahd brought up a good point. Jubie had empathy for Mary because of how Jubie was treated by her parents. And I imagine Mary had a soft spot for Jubie in part because, as a black woman in the 50's, she understood how it felt to be treated unfairly.
Join Date: 04/11/11
I think it says that the family is very dysfunctional and finds Jubie an easy target because she is the"difficult" child who just will not conform. I think this was also a time when women did not defy their husbands even for the sake of a child.
Join Date: 05/26/11
I am not sure that Bill saw Jubie as a "difficult" child so much as he saw her as a challenge. It appeared that she had been a favorite of his when she was younger and, then, ended up as the object of his abuse. Perhaps he actually had some sexual feelings toward her and used violence to satisfy them. I don't enjoy reading about abuse but I did expect that to be revisited once or twice more in the story. I think that this was treated almost lightly enough for the reader to forget it had happened. For example, I would have expected that he would react to her interest in Leesum in a more violent manner.
Join Date: 08/16/11
I, too, felt there was something sexual in Bill's feelings for Jubie. I kept expecting the physical abuse to escalate to sexual abuse. And the fact that he used the buckle end of the belt to beat her moved the whipping beyond discipline for bad behavior into the realm of sadism. Stell was such a "good" child that she gave Bill no excuse to treat her in that way. Jubie frequently got into trouble, so Bill could justify his actions, at least to himself. The fact that Paula let it happen is unconscionable. Mary is the one who intervened, making her the most reasonable and responsible adult in Jubie's life.
Join Date: 06/16/11
I think Jubie was the boy that her Dad did not have for so long and her childiish inclination to be his helper and his student as well as her less girlish body type made her his victim. Her father favored her in some ways and yet was most willing to physically abuse her for the same reason because he felt she could take it. Paula failed her because she did not understand this girl who was not so much like herself as Stell and was herself a fairly weak person.
Join Date: 04/14/11
I thought that there was an underlying reason for the abuse that was not fully explained. I appreciate JoyceS view that until Jubie reached her teen years, her dad treated her like his son. Once it was apparent that she was not his son, he started to abuse her. That is a viable explanation.
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