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Sing, Unburied, Sing: spoilerific discussion

The Green Dragon

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Jan 30, 10:27am Top

Author Jesmyn Ward tells the story of a poor mixed-race family in Mississippi. The story centers around a trip taken by the black mother, Leonie, along with her two children and a friend, to pick up her white husband, who is being released from Parchman prison. The viewpoint alternates among Leonie, her coming-of-age son Jojo, and others. The book has a strong dose of magical realism; two ghosts play significant roles. I found the characters and the story very rich, and I feel my understanding has just scratched the surface. Please chime in with your observations and theories!

To start, here are some questions I have:

What is the significance of the title? What does it mean to be unburied? Presumably the bodies of both of the ghosts we see were buried, but in different ways they were apparently unable to move on completely.

Why is Leonie unable to be a loving parent? Was her mother unable to model the role for her? Is it strictly the drugs? She seems awfully wound up in her own mess, to the point that she can't give Jojo or Kayla much. Does she love Michael, or just depend on him for fixes?

Michael is quite an enigma. What are we supposed to know and figure out about him?

Mam and Pop, seen primarily through Jojo's eyes, seem admirable if limited. How clearly does Jojo see their true natures? What are they really like?

What future lies ahead for any of the characters? Does the ending suggest that Kayla has much stronger vision than Jojo?

Please add your own questions and thoughts!

Group: The Green Dragon

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