In the novel “I am Not Sidney Poitier” by Percival Everett Ted Turner takes in Not Sidney after his mother dies. He stated that he was in love with her and makes comments on how smart she was, but she also was worth a lot of money. After she died her money was transferred to Not Sidney making him a rich black young man. It is unclear if Turner takes Not in because he was worth a lot of money or because he genuinely cared for the young motherless boy. Not lives in the other half of Turner’s house completely isolated, he paid rent and paid for his own staff.
However, even though Turner does not act or try to pretend to be Not’s father he does provide some type of advice when Not is in need. For example, Mrs. Hancock raped Not for the second time and when he brought the issue up to the principle they laughed in his face. After this, he went home and began to pace along the pool line as Turner walks out for an afternoon swim. When Turner speaks, he is disorganized, chaotic, and out of order. But within his disorganized thoughts, there is good advice and life lessons portrayed in his abstract way of thinking.
For example, on page 40 Ted says “I wonder if you know the lightening’s coming. A fellow told me that when he got struck he felt like he had glass in his shoes” this is an example of Ted’s unorganized thoughts, but an insight to his abstract advice to Not Sidney. When Ted walked into the back yard Not began to tell him about his incident with the principle how he just laughed in his face. Ted’s response to him was that he could not tell him what to do and it was his decision on how to proceed with the situation. After saying this he proceeded to talk about the “fellow” he meets that was struck by lightning. I believe that him bringing up the story about the lightning was an analogy to Not Sidney’s issue.
At first, Not tells Ted about his teacher that gave him a blow job and he did not know how he felt about it, just that he knew it was wrong. Ted’s comment about “I wonder if you know the lightening’s coming” can relate to Not Sidney getting the blow job and not knowing the trouble that will come after the incident and if he knew that the lightening, the trouble, was coming after him. Due to Not Sidney telling the Principal and Superintendent, Miss. Hancock failed him in the class, this action is what I interpreted to be the lightning.
The second half of the quote, “A fellow told me that when he got struck he felt like he had a glass in his shoes”, shows a clear relation to Not’s problem. The “…glass in his shoes” can be interpreted as the frustration and anger Not Sidney felt when none of the faculty and bosses of his school believed him. The faculty not believing him would be uncomfortable poking and pain you would feel if you had glass in your shoe. Also, the repetition of the word “struck” can be interpreted as the moment Not received his failing grade from Miss. Hancock.
Another example of Ted’s nonsense comment being useful to and relating to one of Not’s issues is on page 45 where he says “I’ve often wondered how the soldiers in the civil war could do it. Imagine charging across a pasture with men getting blown to smithereens to the left and right of you and you keep going…”. In this passage Not is telling Ted that he is going to drive to L.A to visit his mother’s grave. At the time there was a lot of racism and Not Sidney was somewhat sheltered from this reality by Ted and his own money. He did not know the troubles that were awaiting him as he crossed into Georgia.
While reading the first part of the quote I compared Not Sidney to the solider and the civil war as him crossing the county lines and into the battlefield of racism and unfair treatment of black. The pasture, Georgia, “… with men getting blown to smithereens to the left and right of you and you keep going…” is Not Sidney along with other black men being accused of nonsense crimes and then being taken to jail for no reason other than being black. The reference to the Civil War reminds us that even though the war against slavery was won by the North, there was still an existing punishment for being a Black citizen.
Even though we may view Ted Turner’s unorganized thoughts as useless and nonsensical it can be interpreted as his way of warning Not Sidney or his own way of teaching him lessons.