Hannah Myers, Nicole Barnes, Jordan Wilson, Maddie Bigelow, Olive Niccoli, Myah Dombroski, Hanna Proaper

When trying to find meaning out of nonsense, it has become ironic that our group’s journey has looked similar to Not Sidney’s experiences throughout the novel. Through frustration and confusion, we have taken pieces of the novel that have no specific importance and realized how they can change the whole perspective of the book and our thought process. At first, our group came up with nothing. When discussing moves two and three, we researched the names of the nuns which seemed to have no purpose at all. As readers, we tend to overlook things as simple as a name. When given this prompt, we dug deeper into our thinking and how these names can have more connections and symbolization than we thought to believe. In the end, irony resulted in the fact that similarly to professor Everett in the text, we as a group had to make something out of nothing, just like Not Sidney. We will be unpacking our journey as a group, the names of the nuns and their significance, and how this all ties into I am Not Sidney Poitier

When discussing where to start with this essay, our group felt utterly stuck. We had a whirlwind of thoughts swirling around, yet we couldn’t seem to pinpoint a single idea. In I am Not Sidney Poitier, Not Sidney comes across Professor Everett along his path, and his experiences with him are quite odd. Everett presents a lecture that is described as gibberish and useless. A  quote is given that sums up a unified feeling our group has felt the last few classes; “The students looked at each other, shrugging, scared, frantically trying to carve out something to stick in their notes. I knew that he was uttering gibberish, but what wasn’t clear was whether he knew it” (Everett 100). From this, we can see that Everett’s students were seeing nonsense in its full effect. Similarly, we have felt that all of our ideas for this task have been nonsense when in reality we have truly made so much meaning out of nothing! Professor Everett reminds us of our own professor, Beth McCoy, whereas Everett encourages his students to slow down and think. Furthermore, he stresses the importance of interpreting things under your own impressions, because there is never one correct answer in a class that depends heavily on the analysis of the text. This journey of the students felt personal to our journey on this assignment, as we have had to slow down, think, and truly interpret this text in ways that our group believes are best understood.

When reading through the book the first time, looking at the names of the nuns in the novel didn’t seem very important. The names of the nuns in the novel have been changed from the names of nuns in the movie. The names of the nuns in the books are the names of bishops and historians. Reading through the book the first time, the name change as well as the significance of the names don’t seem like they mean much. However, once we went back and looked at the names again, and researched them, we saw that the names had more significance than we originally thought. In the book, the nuns were written to be seen as not very intelligent as well as not being important characters. However, their names were the names of scholars who were well-educated people. This then shows that the nuns, and the name change, may appear to have  more meaning than we originally interpreted. Though there is no absolute reason behind the name change it is through us looking at the meaning of the names and what we previously had known about Percival Everett that led us to believe that he could have meant a lot more than just the basic idea of changing the names. 

I, Nicole, believe that the names of the nuns are fully nonsense. They have no specific meaning, nor was I expected to know that they had a deeper meaning. This matters because it defines the idea that interpretations can be up to one’s perception. Percival Everett once said “it is incredible a sentence is ever understood.” Under my own interpretation, a sentence can never be fully understand the same way by every single individual, therefore it is impeccable a sentence can ever be understood at all. When it is, it is understood in multiple different ways, which is completely okay, and makes for so many more ideas to bounce off of. 

I, Hannah, found that everything can be interpreted differently. Throughout the novel, there was irony in many parts including the name change once research and thinking took place. It can be exhausting going through what others may be thinking for there is not an exact answer for what one could mean. This matters for people to learn that there does not always have to be one interpretation or one exact meaning to the things being said. The Nun’s name change could just be a way of Percival Everett changing the story so as to not be copywriting, or it could mean something different like a lesson in learning and interpreting. Slowing down and really connecting what we researched with the names brought me to a point where I have an interpretation of what the meaning could be, though there is not a definite one. 

I, Maddie, believe that not everything has a deeper meaning. Sometimes authors just have to give names to characters, make people do certain things to keep the ball moving. Not everything has to be directed and analyzed to such a high extent. You could change those names or that place, that action and it really wouldn’t have affected the plot much, or at all.I think the nuns names just fit that religion, you have to look at the nuns themselves to compare to the move not their specific qualities, and names, because they are very different. When you pick things apart too much I think it changes the point of the story. As far as move 4 I think there are no clear answers as to who cares because if it doesn’t affect the plot nobody should but the author. Sometimes things don’t mean anything, or happen just because. Not everything has a clear cut, precise answer. 

I, Myah, believe that nonsense doesn’t necessarily mean that something is meaningless, it’s what you take from it. For example, taking Beth’s class you can either use it as a resource to better yourself and your thinking process, or you can just do the bare minimum and do the work like a checklist lor worksheet. By slowing down, talking and thinking together, we are practicing working in good faith, we are expanding our thought processes for completing work meaningfully. Many people from our group had said in many ways, Professor Everett in the novel is much like Professor McCoy, and I agree. Beth allows us to think for ourselves and have our own thoughts, opinions and outlooks. We can think as deep as we wish with these essays and can either write in our responses as a checklist, or allow ourselves to deepen our thinking and create our own meanings to the “nonsense”.

I, Jordan, believe that we put worth into things that mean something to us. At first glance the name changes of the nuns from the movie “Lilies of the Field” to the novel I am Not Sidney Poitier originally meant nothing to our group. Everyone had their own interpretation of why this was done or how it affected the book, but honestly the only person who truly knows why this was done is Percivial Everett himself. I myself learned through this assignment that it was all about finding meaning in the nothing. Everything on a superficial level can have little to no meaning. When you dig a little deeper you find meaning in something that wasn’t originally there, and you can continue to build off that. When I use this assignment to reflect on my education at Geneseo it makes me realize that with everything in life, you only get what you give. If you put minimal effort into something you aren’t going to receive the results you want. But with a little effort, you can find meaning in things that others cannot.

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