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The Dry Grass of August
"A must-read for fans of The Help." - Woman's World
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What is the significance of the title?

Created: 12/08/11

Replies: 7

Posted Dec. 08, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
sarahd

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 84

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What is the significance of the title?

What does the title of the novel mean to you?


Sarah D
Posted Dec. 09, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
ritah

Join Date: 05/26/11

Posts: 16

RE: What is the significance of the title?

I struggled with that, too. It comes from the verse from Isaiah that was quoted at Mary's funeral and would appear to be related to those who persecuted the blacks. But, I am also thinking that it relates to the father and his treatment of Jubie and, yet, this does not seem to play out very well at the end.


Posted Dec. 11, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
gwendolyndawson

Join Date: 10/20/10

Posts: 63

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RE: What is the significance of the title?

Ritah,

I'm glad you mentioend where the title came from. I didn't catch that Bible reference, and I finished the book thinking the title was a pretty irrelevant choice. Even knowing where it comes from, I think I would've preferred a different title. I started the book thinking there would be more nature involved because the title suggested that to me. I was expecting long walks through the woods and plains, which now seems like a very silly expectation.


Posted Dec. 12, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
bettyt

Join Date: 05/12/11

Posts: 117

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RE: What is the significance of the title?

I don't really get it either. I read Isaiah 5:24 which is where it supposedly comes from but I don't really see a clear connection.


Posted Dec. 13, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
sarahd

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 84

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RE: What is the significance of the title?

Here is Isiah 5:24, the bible verse that inspired the title: Therefore, as tongues of fire lick up straw and as dry grass sinks down in the flames, so their roots will decay and their flowers blow away like dust; for they have rejected the law of the LORD Almighty and spurned the word of the Holy One of Israel. (Thanks Ritah for pointing this reference out!)
I think the title refers to the persecution of African Americans, for sure, but it also might be something fairly simple like dry grass is susceptible to fire and in a dry, hot month like August, dry grass is easily ignited, like a powder keg of sorts. There are "powder kegs" all over this novel: race relations in the south, Paula and Bill's marriage, the general dysfunction of Jubie's family. All of these things are waiting for a spark to make them blow.


Sarah D
Posted Dec. 28, 2011 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
joyces

Join Date: 06/16/11

Posts: 234

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RE: What is the significance of the title?

Like most of you I struggled with the title. When I finished the book I sat there staring at the cover trying to figure it out. I think the Isiah reference is probably relevant but also think that the reference that Sarahd made to powder kegs is maybe key. The entire racial situation at that time and place was, as history showed, about to explode into a wildfire that would consume a lot to the South for years. For the characters in this story the dry August heat was the time of an entire series of events that change the course of all their lives.


Posted Jan. 02, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
susanr

Join Date: 04/14/11

Posts: 80

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RE: What is the significance of the title?

I thought that the title referred to the dry grass of august being ready to go into flames with just a spark. The same way, the racial situation in the South at the time was ready to go into flames with just a spark. The events in this story were just a small sample of what was going on in the South at this time and how quickly things could start to burn and change.


Posted Jan. 03, 2012 Go to Top | Bottom | link | alert
ritah

Join Date: 05/26/11

Posts: 16

RE: What is the significance of the title?

I think, Sarah, your analysis of the powder kegs of racial discrimination about to burn is very insightful. Hopefully, the Isaiah reference is related to the roots of racial discrimination decaying for nothing could be more rejecting of the law of the Lord Almighty in my mind than rejecting the rights and dignity of any human being! I am old enough to remember the death of Medgar Evers and the freedom riders in Mississippi and, though, I am a northerner/midwesterner who had no firsthand exposure to the Southern racial situation, I have always deplored this treatment of others. I feel the same way about the treatment of individuals in other parts of the world. But, we need not look to other countries or even different parts of this country; prejudice is, unfortunately, still alive and well everywhere whether it be against races, genders, sexual differences or religions. We have a lot of roots that could decay in the Dry Grass of any month!


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