Take A Step Back

As my English 203 class comes to an end, it’s time for me to look back on my progress over the semester. Going back to the first day of classes when we started talking about one of the epigraphs, the suspicious pants, it seems to be that the picture sums up my first semester. I remember walking into the classroom on the first day not knowing what to expect. This was my first semester of college and my first English class. My nerves were all over the place, I did what I was assigned for the first day which was to look at the picture of suspicious pants. I can say now that I didn’t think the pants were going to be something I reflected on today. Going back to my first day of class I was confused and just didn’t see what these pants meant. Now at this moment I see much more in the picture than the pants, I see the pants looking at something or someone, like the pants were trying to speak. 

As a class, we were put into small groups and discussed what we saw in the pants. I remember everyone having a different viewpoint Some people thought the pants looked like one thing but others thought they looked like something else. Back on that first day, all I saw in the pants were what looked like a face staring at me like something was happening that I didn’t know. Now I see something completely different, which to me is what happened over the semester.  I would look at something and interpret it like I am taking the easy way out. For example, it might of seemed like I was taking the easy way out with the pants because all I saw was the face. Now I see that now the pants could be staring at something else, something not being shown in the picture itself. I feel that now, I don’t try taking the easy way out of things but instead looking for a way to challenge myself, seeing the bigger picture. 

When just starting the class, I saw everything differently, including the pants. I was more wary about what I was doing and felt as though I was never improving on what I was writing. It wasn’t until we started the novel I Am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett that I saw a change in my work academically. As I wrote in one of my previous blog posts, That Was Deep, at first I thought the novel was going to be dry and bland. Professor McCoy warned me that I was going to be surprised when it was done if I thought that. When we finished the novel, I have to agree with professor McCoy because that novel was deep. As I stated in the blog post one of the deepest things about the novel to me was the title. The title sets the stage for the readers and portrays what is going to happen before it actually happens. Before reading the novel the title kind of told me there would be someone who was Not Sidney Poitier. Little did I know there was much more about the name than I had even imagined. The main character, Not Sidney Poitier, identity’s changed over one certain event but it wasn’t just about the identity. He experienced himself looking at a human body who was dead that looked exactly like him, which suggested to the readers that it was the famous Sidney Poitier. Like I said in the blog post, after seeing what he saw Not Sidney was shocked. Not Sidney started describing what he saw in this man that he was looking at. For instance, “He was just like me. He looked exactly like me, a fact that was apparently lost on Donald and the Chief. I wanted to say, ‘That’s me.’” (211). In this quote it just shows how all the sudden Not Sidney switched lives due to just looking at someone who looks like him. Since his identity changed to the famous Sidney Poitier it was like his whole life changed and his identity was the reason for it all. This novel wasn’t just about identity or how it changed from one thing to another but was about Not Sidney’s life and how he seemed powerless at times. However, when his identity changed his whole world became so different and Not Sidney became powerful in his own way. 

Just like the pants after a second analysis, you take a different look at things and see something you didn’t see before. After I took a look at the novel, I saw something from the beginning that I didn’t know was there. The last sentence in the novel had the most meaning to me, I didn’t realize how much meaning it really had until I wrote my blog post about it. Percival Everett ended his novel with Not Sidney saying, “…I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY” (234). Like I said in my blog post, at first, I laughed at this sentence. It wasn’t until I was writing the blog that I realized the significance and meaning that the quote had to it. Changing one thing about Not Sidney, which at that moment was his identity and how others saw him changed everything about him. He was looked at as the person who looked like the famous Sidney Poitier and now, he was being looked at as the Sidney Poitier. 

 It might not have seemed like much, but the speech Not Sidney told was him looking at his life from a different point of view. Within the speech, he was doing a reflection on his life and looking back on everything he experienced. In the short span that he announced his speech, he came up with the fact that he wasn’t who he should be at that moment. In so many different ways I can relate to his actions or even his words in general. I haven’t started reflecting on my own life until very recently and even now when I am looking back I have realized, that for me it all started on my very first blog post, Interpretation. When I wrote that blog post I was still in the process of learning how to write a post, I was also a nervous freshman that was filled with every emotion possible. When I was finished with that post, I knew it was going to be only the beginning of it all, I just had to tell myself that whatever happened, it was only the beginning. When I started writing these blog posts, I felt like I was thinking like Professor Everett in the novel, I Am Not Sidney, when he was teaching his class about nonsense. He said ‘“I suppose what we’re talking about in this class is art. If it’s not, then I’m lost, but of course, I’m lost anyway… Let’s consider art as a kind of desacralization, perhaps a sport of epistemological discontinuity…”’ (100) It just seems like Everett started talking about one thing and moves on to something different, and even if it doesn’t make sense, he knows that what he was saying might as well be nonsense. When I first started that’s what my mind was doing, trying to figure out what I was saying and how to put it.

When I got my first set of feedback on my post I was sort of discouraged in a way, I know the comments were supposed to help me improve and I knew that I was going to get a bunch since it was my first one but in a way it made me feel unenthusiastic to continue writing them. I reread them not letting them get the best of me and was determined to keep improving.

Little did I know the improvement wasn’t only in this class but my others also. In my INTD 105 writing seminar class, I had to have a completely different writing style. Our first major assignment was a multimodal essay where we had to write a book review on a novel called, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. I enjoyed the book very much, so I was very passionate about what I was writing when I was writing, I didn’t realize all the connections I was making to little things throughout the book. I was able to pick apart certain parts of the book and connect them to what we were learning which was coming of age themes. 

With all the connections I have made they brought up another line in the novel, that was told by Not Sidney Potier. It read, “It seems you all know me and nothing could be further from the truth and let you know me better than I know myself, perhaps better than I can know myself” (234). Writing so many different posts, I sense that my writing knows me better than I know myself. As confusing as it sounds, it makes sense to me only because I haven’t seen the improvement until I was informed to write this reflective blog post. When I look back at the posts, I see how my mind not only wanders but makes connections.

This class has taught me that the little things add up more than I imagine. With making the connections I have made I never realized how much of an impact the they made on my writing. In high school we were just given an assignment, it had a prompt of what to write and what materials to use. In this class, it’s like a different world, instead of getting everything handed to us we are taught to use the skills we have and the ones we didn’t know we had. We are taught to think of everything that is connecting together. As crazy as it seems it makes so much sense! For me personally, I didn’t know I could do any of this. I was so used to writing about this one novel we read in class; or just an argument about this one topic I did using the research I have done. 

When I look back at not only how my semester has gone in and outside of the class, I see progression, I see things I have never seen before. In this class, I have learned much more than how to write or how to improve my writing but how to stop for a second and look at things differently. It’s eye-opening to see really what you can do when you just take a second to look at something from a different view. Going back to the pants one more time, I look at them and see so much more than just a face. I see the world ahead of me just like how my semester in English 203 has taught me to take a step back and think about what really might be happening.

Am I Not Sidney Poitier?

In every good novel, there will always be that one blurb or sentence that is going to be remembered. In this case from the novel I Am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett, there is also a line that I find myself being able to connect to it in some way or another. That line was also the last in the novel which was, “…I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY” (234). Having written about the same quote in many of my previous blog posts such as, That Was DeepNot Quite DifferentThe Number 7, it just makes me realize that there must be something about this quote that is so intriguing. 

I find that maybe in some way that I can relate to this quote. This quote is relatable to me in the way of starting college. College is more than just moving up in a year of school, instead, it feels like I was transiting into another world. For example, in my high school English classes when we would have an essay, we would have a structured prompt. I knew exactly what I had to base my essay on and what materials I had to use to support my claims. Now I feel that we have more freedom, instead of having a structured prompt we have more of a guideline. College forces you to branch out a bit and start relying on yourself then the prompt itself. What I mean by that is that as the writer you have to think hard about really what connects and somehow makes sense of it. Just like Not Sidney, it took me a little bit to find my purpose starting with a completely different environment I was unfamiliar with. 

There is going to be the time where you come into realization of what has to be done and really what the purpose is. For me personality, I feel as I came to the point when I had to write my blog posts. When I was starting them, I was still getting the feel for how to do them, so I wasn’t the best, I felt like Not Sidney when he said that he wasn’t himself. I was starting something I was unsure about and it was weird, I had to find my purpose and find a way to work around the whole situation.

When I began the process of writing then it just felt so different as it would be because I am not used to writing in that style. At first, I thought my writing would be different in a way because I didn’t have such a structured guideline but as the process went on, I found myself in my writing. I realized that when it came time to write a post, I would have so many ideas and when I start writing about them, I think of a completely different one that made it even better. 

Not Sidney made a speech about his life and talking about how he got where he was at that moment. He ended with that quote showing that he knows what he has to do to change to become himself. At the beginning of the novel, he knew he was different than everyone else in some way. He was the son of the women everyone thought was going crazy because she has been pregnant for “One hundred and four” (4) weeks. Not Sidney started off being in those situations where he was always different, especially at the beginning of the novel. It wasn’t till the end was near that he started standing up for himself and started to make his own decisions. 

Not all realizations are the same, especially because there are different situations to the realization. Not Sidney came to his realization when he stood in front of the crowd of people having to tell a speech he didn’t prepare. It was like it all rushed to him and when he stood staring at these people who thought he was someone he wasn’t. He knew at the moment he was telling the speech that there was something off, which was him not pursuing his purpose. 

Percival Everett had to have his reason for ending his novel with his main character saying this important line. Not Sidney had all the power in him and right in front of him at that moment to say whatever he wanted. He decided to not only tell the people the truth but to tell them something he needed to hear for himself. Doing as he did, Everett was showing the readers that even if it seemed like Not Sidney was small and powerless, that he had it in him all along it just took a little to bring it out in him. 

Relating the assumption to myself and the blog posts, when I started, I felt small like I didn’t know how to do it and wondering if I was doing it right. It took a little bit, but I found my voice and started to get the hang of the posts themselves. I feel as I was so intrigued by this quote, “…I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY” (234), because I could relate to it in a way I didn’t even know; just like Not Sidney could relate to his own words before even using them. I was moved by Not Sidney’s words even if it took me a little to realize that I am kind of like him in away. 

The Number 7

In my English 203 class we finished reading the book of poems from re: f (gesture) by Percival Everett, and all of the short poems within the book. The last poem was titled Logic and that poem seemed a bit all over the place; it seemed a bit disorganized in away. It started off talking about logic, to letters, to rats and then ends off with this a poem about the number 7. 

When we were reading this in class, I noticed there were little numbers in the upper left-hand corner, which indicated how many poems there were. The last poem was about number 7 and the little number told the reader it was the 6th poem. For some reason that bothered me a bit it just seemed like something was missing. The last page of the whole book was completely blank, even though that is common in some books it just seemed to me that it was put there for a reason. There needed to be something on this page to make it complete, to make it the 7th poem. 

The poem talking about the number 7 puts the number in the spotlight. For example, “Seven men lost, but not seven… All men will die but not seven” (70). There was just something about that number that was so intriguing to me. I had to find out this meaning, and really why Percival Everett ended his book of poems with this specific poem. 

I was determined to find out exactly what I wanted to know so I started researching the number 7. From the research I found a few interesting things that brought my thoughts to something more than the number 7 and this book of poems; but to another novel of Percival Everett’s we have read in this class, I Am Not Sidney Poitier. On one of the websites I was reading from, it said that the number 7 is an angel number and “…angel number 7 is an indication that you are introspective and thoughtful, and in touch with your deeper purpose in life”. Relating that back to Not Sidney Poitier, that just reminded me of when he was posing as Sidney Poitier and was telling a speech; he had to stand on the stage when he was given an award and had to give a speech that he didn’t prepare to people who thought he was someone else. Within a few words, he has made his speech tell the story of what has happened to him throughout the novel and how that has brought him to that current moment. As a reader, it seems that his speech is so well spoken that it doesn’t seem like he came up with it on the spot but instead he was speaking his purpose from the heart. The last sentence of the speech to me was the deepest part of his speech and just illustrated his purpose for the speech. It read, “…I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY” (234). This tells the reader that Not Sidney realizes his purpose in life is much more than what he is going through. By telling the audience this in his speech is a signal that he understands his purpose and understands the truth which at that moment was how he wasn’t himself today. 

A site that was focused more on the religious standpoint of the number, had a view on the number. According to the Bible Study website, “Seven is the number of completeness and perfection (both physical and spiritual)”. The one word that stood out to me the most in the quote was “completeness”, going back to my quote said by Not Sidney, he realized that he didn’t have that “completeness” in his life which brought him to the fact that he wasn’t himself. Even though Not Sidney wasn’t himself at that exact moment when he was giving the speech, he knew something was missing and that was all due to him not being his true self. 

All of the thinking about Not Sidney still never answered my question about exactly why Percival Everett left off with the poem he did. Well not until I read something about the number 7 on a website about numerology. According to this website, “The number 7 is the seeker, the thinker…”. That quote just made me think about everything I was and am doing. Having the number 7 as the “thinker” is like what I am doing when trying to figure out exactly why Percival Everett left on how he did.

All of the novels we have read in class so far has gotten me to think about something whether it be relating intertextuality between the novels, or real-life issues or anything. The whole purpose of it all was to think that the number 7 is meant for like this website has said. So, in ending with the poem about the number 7 Everett isn’t just ending the book of poems but instead is leaving the reader’s mind to wander. In doing this he allows the reader to think that they probably didn’t start doing when initially reading the poems. 

Not Quite Different

Looking back at the previous novels I have read in English, I have realized some are not entirely different, especially with some of the main characters in the novels. In Percival Everett’s novel, I Am Not Sidney Poitier and Percival Everett’s novel, Frenzy, there is intertextuality between the characters Not Sidney Poitier and Vlepo. Intertextuality is defined in the Bedford as, “the condition of interconnectedness among texts, or the concepts that any text is an amalgam of others, either because it exhibits signs of influence or because its language inevitably contains common points of reference with other texts…” Even though the characters are from two different novels written by Percival Everett they have some common points.

  In the novel, I Am Not Sidney Poitier, the main character, Not Sidney was convicted of murder until further investigation proved that he wasn’t. When he was shown the body, he couldn’t believe his eyes because it looked as he was looking at himself. This tells the reader it is probably the famous Sidney Poitier due to examples throughout the novel telling Not Sidney he looked exactly like Sidney Poitier. Being that Not Sidney seemed to be looking at a body that looks like his, no one knew that the famous Sidney Poitier was dead. That being said, like I wrote about in one of my previous blogs, Another World, Not Sidney took over Sidney Poitier’s life at the end of his novel. 

In the novel Frenzy, one of the main characters and the narrator, Vlepo is not a normal specimen. The novel didn’t go into detail about what his true form is, except when the reader is reading about all the forms he becomes. For example, “Before I could offer my opinion, I was in the body of a woman, feeling her delirium walking toward a freshly killed deer from which others were tearing strips of flesh” (17). Vlepo is never just one thing, in this example, he is a woman there is another time he was a goat. He doesn’t have a true form.

It might not seem like these two characters are any bit similar, but they are. They both at one point in their novels change into something they didn’t start as in the beginning for whatever the reason is. They are also both confused about one thing. For instance, at the end of the novel, Not Sidney was giving a speech to a bunch of people who thought he truly was Sidney Poitier, at the end of the speech he left off with a significant line, “I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY” (234). That line not only told the readers that Not Sidney was not purposing taking over for Sidney Poitier due to fame and also because of looks but because he honestly is confused. Seeing his duplicate being dead made him rethink a lot of things like, who was he? 

In the novel Frenzy, Velpo was also confused about who he truly was. There were a few times in the novel where he questioned his master, Dionysos asking what/who he was. For example, ‘“You, Vlepo, you represent the human middle. It’s not much of a life, though, is it? -representing a thing”’ (47). Dionysos told him that he wasn’t human but just a thing that represents life. Which from reading the novel you assume that he isn’t a human, because he can shapeshift into maybe different forms and even read people’s thoughts by being controlled by his master. 

Identity is very important in everyday life. It’s how you are portraying yourself to others, and the way they see you. Identity, according to Merriam-Webster is defined as “the distinguishing character or personality of an individual”. Well between these two characters, Not Sidney and Vlepo it seems that their identities don’t show how they portray themselves to others. Vlepo doesn’t have much power being that he has to follow his master’s orders and doesn’t make decisions for himself. He is thrown into situations and has no say in whether he wants to or not. To illustrate, at the end of the novel, Dionysos gave Vlepo an important task, ‘“After I have achieved sleep, real sleep. I want you to cut out my heart from this body and leave it unceremoniously on the ground.’ ‘I cannot kill you.’ I said. ‘You can, Vlepo. You cannot defy me, but you can kill me. I wish it so.’ ‘You are my master.’ ‘Yes, I am”’ (154). Vlepo has no power to do what he wants, he just has to respect the wishes of his master, even if it means that he might have to kill him. 

On the other hand, Not Sidney is not quite the same. Not Sidney does get thrown into situations that he cannot control but he also has more power to control other situations and stop them from happening. Even in completely different novels, there are still things that Not Sidney can’t control, like his skin color. When he was driving to Atlanta and got pulled over and arrested, he was told it was because of his color. Not Sidney was put on a bus with other people who were arrested but not of the same race. Not Sidney describes, “I sat near the back of the bus, my face pressed against the diamond-patterned cage, my right wrist shackled to the white man’s left” (52). Yet again Not Sidney is in a situation where he can’t control or do anything about it. Not Sidney and the white man meet a family and found a situation where he could get out of this sticky situation, he was in being chained to the white man. Not Sidney knew he wanted to escape and because the family got closer to the white man, they all decided they were going to escape with him. At the end of the chapter, Not Sidney had the power to make his own decision and do what was best for him. To explain, “The train’s whistle blew. It was coming and I was the only one awake. I did not wake them. The locomotive passed, and I walked to the tracks” (79). Having some power to decide on his own Not Sidney did and chose to leave everyone sleeping and go off on his own.

As I described Not Sidney might not have too much power and is thrown into situations, he cannot control but there are still many times where he can control the situation which shows that he has power. However, Vlepo doesn’t have the luck Not Sidney has and isn’t able to make any chooses for himself. He is just thrown into whatever his master makes him do. It seems that Vlepo is confused about his identity through the novel like he has his identity he shows the people around him but deep down he is honestly confused about who he is and how he should show himself to the world. He has the image that he shows to the world which is, ‘“I am Vlepo,’ I said. ‘I am a servant to the god Dionysos”’ (115). To others, he is just the servant who just follows orders that are instructed to him by his master, Dionysos. Even though Vlepo does question what he is he doesn’t do anything about it. He points out at the beginning of the novel, “My usual place was at the side of the god Bromius as his aide, his chronicler, his mortal bookmark. I am Vlepo. For as long as I have known that there is time and a life to know, I have been with god. I am not his creation, but I cannot claim a life away from him” (3). Vlepo, the narrator of the novel Frenzy tells his readers early on what he is and really how he wants others to see him on the outside. Towards the middle of the novel, Vlepo does question who he is and asks his master. Specifically, ‘“Did you create me?’ I asked, finding a tree against which to lean my shoulder. ‘Create is such a slatternly, ticklish word. I wouldn’t say that I created you.’ ‘What would you say? Would you say that you constructed me? Built me?”’ (88). Vlepo feels as he is different than how people see him. He wants to figure out his true self. 

Not Sidney at the end of his novel questions who he was. He knows that people see him differently especially after he saw Sidney Poitier, even if they don’t know the true him. Not Sidney not only realized his identity doesn’t match his life but also speaks it to the world in a speech he had told the public who thought he was Sidney Poitier. 

Identity is different for everyone since no one is the same. I know for me, there was a time in my life where I was confused about if what I was showing the world was really who I was deep down. There is always going to be that time in your life where you will ask yourself, is this really who I am? I feel like it’s a part of growing up, finding your true self and how you want others to see the real you. There is no exact moment that this situation could happen and that is shown in the two novels. Vlepo and Not Sidney don’t ask themselves the question of who they are until later in their novels.  

Even from different novels, Percival Everett’s characters Vlepo, and Not Sidney are not quite different, they both are different than others, and don’t have much power over situations. They also don’t think their identity matches how they present themselves to the world. The two characters are not quite different. 

Next time won’t you sing with me

The other day in class we started reading a new book, called re: f (gesture). Inside this book of poems are abecedarian poems, which according to Merriam-Webster means “of or relating to the alphabet; alphabetically arranged”.  The poems were set up in alphabetical order where the first sentence of every poem would be a new letter in order of the alphabet. After reading the poems we were placed into small groups and were to discuss what we read without using anything other than the book of poems itself. 

Within my group, we keep throwing around some ideas here and there trying to pick apart the poems to see what we could exactly find. The next instructions within the group were to pick one of the letter poems and to discuss that poem. My group picked the letter “K” and we read the poem once again and started discussing what we thought it might relate to. One of the lines in the poem made us transition our conversation to Greek gods. For instance, “Hades would agree” (25). I was kind of confused about how one minute we were talking about this book of poems and the letter “K” to the next minute we ended up talking about Greek gods. I asked my group, “How did we end up talking about the letter K to talking about Greek gods”. Little did I know that question was the question of the day, and this discussion was about to lead us to that question. 

Going off my question it got me to think, is alphabetical order really necessary? What exactly is the purpose of having alphabetical order if we just are going to end up going out of order anyway? The answer is structure, according to the Bedford structure is “often equated with form, the arrangement of material in a work, that is, the ordering of its component parts or the design devised by the author to convey content and meaning”. Having structure to the alphabet makes this more organized and easier to find. For example, if you want to look something up in the Bedford like the word structure you know that you have to go to the pages that start with the letter “S”. Having the structure makes it easier to find whatever it is that is needed to find.

With that being said, even though having structure is very useful there also seems like there is a downfall to having it. Using the example of how my group started with talking about the letter “K” to all of a sudden talking about the letter “H”, it seems that even if there is structure it can be broken in some way or another. Even in the Bedford, that structure is broken because if you go to look up a word it usually redirects you to another word.

It seems to be that structure leads to the organization, but that could also mean that the structure is meant to be broken. The alphabet is kind of just set up the way it is so it’s very organized, but more times than none that organization is just there to look pretty. Going back to my original example, it just seems like there really isn’t a point in the alphabet other than it just being organized.

That brings me to then think of when I personally use the alphabet, to see really how useful it initially is. Just like before when I couldn’t think of the word, I wanted to use. I knew it started with a specific letter, so I found myself looking into that section with the letter. It made it easier to narrow down my choices of remembering what the word could be.

Another example would be, in the beginning of the year, when professor McCoy was teaching how to go about our blog posts she told us that we can’t just jump to step “Z” we have to take it one step at a time which means starting from step “A” then going to step  “B”. That made me realize that the structure of the alphabet can be helpful, for the organization of it but also helping with real-life situations. This is one situation that even if the alphabet is flexible you shouldn’t go out of order and keep the organization how it was.  

The question I had in class, “How did we end up talking about the letter K to talking about Greek gods”, struck the question of why does the alphabetical order really matters? Until this moment I kept thinking there was an actual answer to the question I had, I feel as now thinking about it there necessarily isn’t. Yes, it matters for the structural point of view, and to have an organization but it also doesn’t matter. The alphabet is supposed to be flexible; it isn’t meant to be set in stone. That was proven in class when we started discussing the book we are starting to read, re: f (gesture).

That Was Deep

Before reading the novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier, and knowing little to no background information I was determined that it was going to be a very boring dry novel. When we were in our small groups after reading a few pages about the novel discussing it I remember talking to one of my group mates, about what we thought the novel was going to be like. I agreed with her in saying it wasn’t going to be very deep just straight to the point. When we brought that up to professor McCoy, she told us to just wait because our mind sets will soon be changed. I can proudly say that I completely agree with professor McCoy’s comment after finishing the novel, I just realized how deep the whole thing really was.

What is brought to my attention now is the title of the novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier. Throughout the whole novel Not Sidney had to either correct people when they asked if he was Sidney Poitier or tell them that he was not Sidney Poitier. At the end of the novel when, he was being called Sidney Poitier, having to walk down a red carpet and make a speech he didn’t correct anyone. He stood in front of this crowd, who thought he was the famous Sidney Poitier not knowing who he truly was and made an honest speech. The last sentence of the speech and also the last sentence of the novel was the most powerful line to me personally, ‘“… I AM NOT MYSELF TODAY”’ (234). When I read this speech I laughed, it was strangely just so funny to me how that speech was the ending of the book, and just how after that line the whole novel was over. That speech was the moment I realized how deep this book really was. 

The title is the part of the novel that displays the deepest part of the novel, to me at least. The title set the tone for what Percival Everett was intending to write in his novel. According to the Bedford, tone means “the attitude of the author toward the reader, audience, or subject matter of a literary work”. Having the tone set for the readers will give them get a sneak peek of what is about to come. This title of the book is kind of ironic in a way, since Not Sidney’s name is Not Sidney the title is true. 

Except for the ending of the novel where, Not Sidney was arrested when he said that he wasn’t Sidney Poitier. He was told he was arrested for murder and was taken down to the deputy station. Not Sidney answered all the Chief’s question and they came to the conclusion that Not Sidney couldn’t be the killer of the dead man they had. The Chief decided to show Not Sidney the dead body they had to see if Not Sidney knew him. After seeing what he saw Not Sidney was shocked. Not Sidney started describing what he saw in this man that he was looking at. To demonstrate, “He was just like me. He looked exactly like me, a fact that was apparently lost on Donald and the Chief. I wanted to say, ‘That’s me.’” (211). In this description Not Sidney illustrated that this man looked exactly like him, which implies that it could be Sidney Poitier because of all the people who pointed out to Not Sidney that he looks like Sidney Poitier earlier in the novel.

It seems that in making the dead man be Sidney Poitier, Percival Everett is letting the reader’s mind wander. There could be many interpretations on to why he decided to make the dead man Sidney Poitier, to me it’s because he is showing how looks can be deceiving. According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, looks can be deceiving is used to say that something can be very different from how it seems or appears to be. The ending of the novel demonstrates that situation with Not Sidney. After Not Sidney had seen what the dead man had looked like, he wanted to go find the murderer of the person who killed a man that looks exactly like him and to get the money he wanted to give the sisters. One thing led to another and he was able to get his money, he had to fly to LAX for a vacation from everything that’s happened. When Not Sidney got to his destination everyone called him “Mr. Poitier” and he was confused on why they seemed to recognize him. Since Not Sidney looks exactly like the famous Sidney Poitier, and it seems to be that Sidney Poitier has been killed, Not Sidney has taken over the role.

According to the Bedford the definition of image is most commonly, a visual representation of something (such as a photograph) or mental picture of some visible thing or things. Not Sidney’s image at the end of the novel has been changed completely just because of his appearance. His image started off being a kid who was told he looked like Sidney Poitier to now a man who still looks like him and being called Sidney Poitier. Just because of one event switched around Not Sidney’s life forever.

In changing one thing about Not Sidney, it just changes him completely. It changes how he is viewed and how even others see him. This just shows how powerful identity is and even how powerful words/actions are. Even in Not Sidney’s speech himself he told his audience that he didn’t know who he was because of his actions that lead him to where he was at that moment. That’s why the title of the novel is so powerful, and how it just set up so much meaning for what was yet to come.

Another world

After finishing the novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier by Percival Everett, I believe that the author was trying to make a point in his writing. I might not know from personal experiences, what black people in society go through today or have went through but, within the novel there was a bunch of parts that highlight black people and possibility what is an everyday situation to them. The main character, Not Sidney Poitier might have been different than others due to his skin color, but at times in the book it seemed that people only saw him as different due to his skin color. They defined him as being black and not due to the person he is.

In the novel, I am Not Sidney Poitier there were a few times where because of Not Sidney’s color of his skin he was treated differently than others. For instance, when Not Sidney was leaving Atlanta to go to Los Angeles Not Sidney saw in his rear-view mirror, “…a flashing blue bubble atop a black-and-white country sheriff’s patrol car” (46). Not Sidney described that he was terrified as he watched the officer come over to his driver side door. The officer did what any officer would do and asked for his license and registration. When Not Sidney went to grab his information the officer proceeded to say, “That thar be far nuff, n*****! Sitch on back straight and git out the veehickle!” (47) When Not Sidney tried to explain to the officer that he was just doing exactly what he asked, the officer just started to freak out and continue to say “Ya’ll done heard me na, boy! Move na! Move yo black a**. Na, git out chere, right na!” (47) The officer kept yelling at Not Sidney telling him to shut up and do as he says even though that’s exactly what Not Sidney was doing. He then proceeded to arrest him and when Not Sidney asked why he was getting arrested the officer told him, “Well, fer one thang, sassin’ an officer of the law, which around here is the same as resistin’ arrest. Now, there’s speedin’ and failure to stop immediately when I turned on my light. And then there’s bein’ a n*****” (48). The officer used the excuse of Not Sidney having colored skin for one of the reasons he is being arrested. This just shows a person who feels as people with color are different than people who aren’t ones of colors and feel they should be treated differently. 

When Not Sidney was in grade school, Not Sidney had a situation he took to his principal, on how his teacher did sexual things to him he didn’t want her to do. When approaching the principal about it he just laughed at him. Not Sidney tried taking this situation to more drastic measures and went to the superintendent. When Not Sidney told the superintendent everything that happened, she decided to call the principal to see his point of the story Not Sidney gave. When she hung up with the principal her response was, “then the sound of her voice came back and now it was laughter, crackling, witch-crackling laughter… She hung up the phone, looked at me, and laughed harder” (43). In this exact situation, if Not Sidney wasn’t a man of color not only the principal but also superintendent would have treated the whole situation differently. They probably wouldn’t have laughed the whole thing off like it was no big deal and actually try to help Not Sidney when he just went to them for help. 

On the other hand, later in the novel when Not Sidney was dating, he was invited to his girlfriend’s house for thanksgiving dinner. At one point of the night Not Sidney heard something that his girlfriend’s parents were saying about him, ‘“He just bought it. Paid cash for it. He’s somehow involved with Ted Turner, but none of this is clear. What is clear is that he can buy and sell everyone we know a couple times over.’ ‘But he’s so dark,’ Ruby said. ‘He’s so f****** rich is what he is.’ Ward paused. ‘I knew there was something about that boy I liked.’ ‘He’s so black.”’ (144-145) After finding out about Not Sidney’s wealth the father looked passed the color of his skin, but the mother still was worried about it. When the parents first meet Not Sidney, they first judged him by his skin color, not even knowing if he is a good guy or not, but instead they went right to the color of his skin. 

In class we also watched a movie called the Defiant Ones, where Sidney Poitier played the role of Noah Cullen, who was a man of color and was previously arrested and on a jail bus. In the movie Noah was chained to a white man who played John Jackson otherwise known as Joker. Since the two of them were chained together they were forced to do everything together until they were able to unchain themselves from each other. Having said that when the two men didn’t agree with each other they started to fight. There was one fight they landed on the ground where this little boy pointed a gun at the two men. When the little boy hit his head on the rock from falling, he woke up to Noah trying to make sure he was awake and the little boy started to freak out and ran to Joker. Even when the little boy took them back to his mother, his mother was still very wary of Noah. When the mother made food for Joker, Joker had to specifically had to tell her to give Noah some food and coffee also. This film took place in the late 1950s, so people had different says about people of color then present day. That scene gave me the idea as a viewer that in that time period, all people see in a person is the color of their skin.

In the novel Everett is trying to portray a message, in showing his readers exactly what might happen to people of color. According to the Bedford, intersectionality is “a theory positing that identify is grounded in multiple, intersecting social categories and that discrimination and oppression are compounded at the crossroads of such categories.” In using intersectionality in his novel, he is showing readers what it’s like, and how people of color might be treated. Since I don’t know from experience how a person of color is treated, I personally don’t know how it feels to be in a situation like that. But it seems to be something that’s worth bringing up if Everett uses more than one examples in his novel. 

Everett is trying to show the readers by his writing how people treat others of different race. The definition of race, according to the Bedford is, “A term commonly used to classify or distinguish human population on the basis or hereditary, observable physical characteristics, particularly skin color, but now primarily considered a social or cultural construct by anthropologists, scientists, scholars, and literary critics.” People of different race, are being treated differently; most people do not realize that they are because they aren’t in the same situations. Knowing so Everett is making a point and trying to make his readers aware of our surrounds, most importantly that there is another world outside of our own.

Who is the father?

In the novel I am Not Sidney Poitier, the main character’s name is Not Sidney Poitier. Not Sidney had an interesting birth where his mother went through a hysterical pregnancy, and when he was born his mom decided to name him Not Sidney. 

While reading the novel there were a lot of times when people would look at Not Sidney weirdly upon learning his name. Then other times Not Sidney was asked if he is related to the famous Sidney Poitier. Not Sidney knew he couldn’t give the people what they want, because he can’t give the kids who make fun of his name a different name and he can’t tell the others who ask him if he is related to Sidney Poitier their answer simply because he doesn’t know. 

From reading what I have read so far in the book Not Sidney is somewhat curious as to who his father is. Not Sidney grew up with just his mom until she passed away, there was no mention what-so-ever of his father. When Not Sidney asked his mother about his father, she simply turned down his question or just changed the subject. For example, ‘“May I ask, is your father Sidney Poitier?’ ‘No.’ I answered quite definitely, but the fact of the matter is I was not quite definite; I did not know. I had no reason to suspect that Sidney Poitier was my father, but I also had no idea who my father was. I knew nothing about the man, whether he was a man or during my short years with her about him, but her answers were either so vague and confusing as to be useless or no answer at all” (84). This quote shows how Not Sidney knows absolutely nothing about his father. His mother passed away so he will never know directly from her who his father is. 

The question I have is, why exactly did Not Sidney’s mother give vague responses regarding who his father is? Is his father a bad man? Or did she simply just want him not to know for her own reasons. 

From what I have read so far Not Sidney isn’t really interested in looking into who his father is, he has never really stopped and decided to do some research or ask any questions. When Not Sidney’s mother passed away, a man named Ted Turner took Not Sidney under his roof, since Not Sidney’s mother invested a lot of money into his company. At first, I thought that Ted could be his father due to the question I had which was, why exactly did Not Sidney’s mother invest her whole savings into this one man. Reading more into the book I soon realized that my thought was just a thought. Ted didn’t seem like a man to be Not Sidney’s father. 

Ted never really took care of Not Sidney; all of his maids and teachers did. Ted hired his maids who cooked and cleaned for Not Sidney and he also hired the teacher who homeschooled Not Sidney. When Not Sidney told Ted about this teacher in his school who basically sexually harassed Not Sidney, he went to his only male figure he could ask for advice. After telling Ted the situation he asked, ‘“is that fatherly advice?’” Ted simply replied ‘“No, this is just advice from a fellow penis owner”’ (33). After these observations, I turned down my thought of Not Sidney’s father being Ted Turner. 

Since my thought of Ted Turner was turned down, I tried to think what of other male his father could be and realized that there are no other male figures that Not Sidney knows that I have brushed upon just yet. Reading over my notes to see if there were any male figures, I realized that Sidney Poitier could be one of them. Even if Not Sidney hasn’t met Sidney Poitier there could be a possibility that Sidney Poitier is the father of Not Sidney Poitier. 

Since I would need some evidence to back up my hypothesis, I had to go back into the book to see what I have read that could possibly back up my hypothesis. I found that when Not Sidney introduces himself more than half of the responses ask him if he is related to Sidney Poitier since they look alike. That got me thinking, I know that within the book there is a bunch of literary terms that Percival Everett uses. For example, he uses a lot of puns and irony throughout the novel so far. Well what if one of his examples of irony is Not Sidney being the son to Sidney Poitier. 

According to the Bedford, the definition of irony is “a contradiction or incongruity between appearance or expectation and reality. This disparity may be manifested in a variety of ways. A discrepancy may exist between what someone says and what he or she actually means, between what someone expects to happen and what really happens, or between what appears to be true and what actually is true.” Having that definition in mind it helps to form my hypothesis. As a reader and reading as far as I have at this point, I don’t know who the father of Not Sidney Poitier is, I also will not know if I am going to find out who he is. But I can have my assumptions and I believe that Percival Everett is using literary terms such as irony to express that Sidney Poitier is the father of Not Sidney Poitier.

Having all of these thoughts in the back of my head I feel as though I read the novel differently than others might. From the beginning I have been reading the novel in a different point of view, well ever-since  encountering this quote that stood out to me, “I am tall and dark and look for the world, like Mr. Sidney Poitier, something my poor disturbed and now deceased mother could not have known when I was born and named me Not Sidney Poitier” (3). This quote was said on the first page on the novel and being one of the first things I read, shapes the way I will further explore the novel. I go onto reading trying to find out who exactly Sidney Poitier is and how he relates to Not Sidney. It just seems to me that Percival Everett is leaving me on a cliffhanger. 

I don’t necessarily think that Everett is working his novel around all the literary elements he uses throughout the book. I just think that he uses them to help express what he means when he is writing. By using these elements, he helps get his point across. For example, some elements help the reader visual the text better when using elements, like Percival Everett uses irony to help express his thoughts. Everett could be using the irony to show that Not Sidney is the son of Sidney Poitier. Since Everett uses irony it helps the reader better visual the point Everett is trying to make in his novel. 

In the Bedford, there is an extended version of the word irony, within the extended version it states, “works that exhibit structural irony, the third major type of irony, contain an internal feature that creates or promotes a discrepancy that typically operates throughout the entire work. Some of the element of the work’s structure (or perhaps even its form), unrelated to the plot per se, invites the audience or reader to probe beneath surface statements or appearances.” As shown in the quote something that’s perhaps not related to the plot could be somewhat ironic in a deeper way. Not Sidney’s father isn’t a big part if at all part of the plot but a small part that could be deeper explored throughout the book. Percival Everett doesn’t come out and tell the reader who the father is so going off of the parts that I have read so far, and deeper exploring the meaning to find out the question I am further exploring. 

Other than the quote that struck me in the beginning of the book that stated how Not Sidney looked like Sidney Poitier and had his personality, there was another quote later that stood out to me. In college one of Not Sidney’s professor’s name is Percival Everett and he told Not Sidney one day after class, ‘“You know what I see when I look at you?’ ‘No.’ ‘I see Sidney Poitier.’ ‘But…’  I know, I know, you’re Not Sidney Poitier and also not Sidney Poitier but in a strange way you are Sidney Poitier as much as you’re anyone”’ (102). In this novel, as a reader we know little to no information about the famous Sidney Poitier expect for the fact that people think that Not Sidney Poitier is somehow related to Sidney Poitier. Going back to the Bedford definition again, where it said “…invites the audience or reader to probe beneath surface statements or appearances.” that just makes me think that somehow Percival Everett is throwing these little hints to the reader suggesting that Not Sidney really is the son of Sidney Poitier, and he is suggesting this using his irony of making the reader go deeper into what they already know from the reading.

Having all these observations, and suspects I have for who really is Not Sidney’s father, I have realized that it has changed the way I read the novel. Since I am so wrapped up into figuring out who the father is, even if it’s not a big part of the plot, I read the novel in a different point of view then someone who isn’t too wrapped up in knowing who it is. I find myself wrapped up into trying to find the deeper meaning in certain things that might just give me a clue one who the father is. The quotes that seem to jump out at me someway in my mind related to Not Sidney and something to do with who his father really is.           

Knowing I am reading this way I feel as I miss so many deeper parts of the book, and I am missing the important meanings because I am so wrapped up into figuring out the question I have had since the beginning of the book. I am reading the book trying to figure out if my thought process is correct. I go into it with the observations I have hoping to find something ironic that could tie into what I believe is happening.

From what I have read and from my understanding of the novel so far, I don’t necessarily believe that Pericaval Everett is trying to tell the reader that there is a correct thought process to understanding his novel. I believe that since there are many different approaches to portraying the book, and I know personally I took the approach of trying to find the deeper meaning and figuring out who Not Sidney’s father is by trying to deeper explore Everett’s work and his use of irony. 


After looking back at the course epigraphs, we looked at in class on the first day, I found myself keep going back to the suspicious pants. The pants just caught my attention, I was kind of confused on why we were talking about pants on the first day of classes, but I didn’t worry about that. I soon realized that the pants just have so many meanings to them, there is not one specific meaning because it’s how you look at them and how you intercept the meaning. The pants make me think of all different ways that they could be suspicious, for example at first, I interpreted them as being suspicious of the reader. I know in class when we were going over the different interpretations someone said something the pants looks like they have a mouth and the belt loops are the mouth being sewed shut. There are just so many interpretations and so many ways to see one thing. When I start to look at the tweet more it’s starting to become eye opening. I start to realize certain details that might not have been noticeable at first or might not even have any meaning towards anything. I began to notice little things like the time and date of the tweet or even the account name which is @_youhadonejob1. That put things in a different perspective and starts to make me wonder, what the “one job” was that these pants didn’t do. Or even the job the pants did do. 

Even though we all interpret things differently and have a different understanding of what’s going on in certain things like what we are reading it all comes together. The interpretation of something is really how we start to learn it. according to David Brock’s blog, he says “we may be looking at the same picture, but we see different things and we see things differently”. Just like the pants, everyone interprets things differently.

Knowing that there are many things interpreted differently I thought this ENGL 203 class was going to be difficult because I might have a different interpretation or understanding others in the class. When weeks started going by and we keep going through classes I was reassured by Professor McCoy that no interpretation is wrong. Everyone is going to have a different way of looking at something and learning things. Which means that everyone is going to have many amazing ideas or points of views on what we are discussing in class. Using everyone’s ideas in our small discussion groups helped make the topic we were talking about clearer. Having all different opinions helps in the group environment since it helps better understand the information as class goes by. 

In this class we have had so many discussions, during these discussions I get to hear all the different interpretations or even opinions of different things. Similar to the pants, there was one day we were talking about pronunciation, of the word “elementary”. Just like everyone has their own interpretation of the pants, we all had our own ways of saying “elementary” whether it be “el-luh-men-tr-ee” or “el-luh-men-tree”. Or even when we went around the room to see who says “pop” and who says “soda”. There is no right or wrong answer, it just depends on the person and how they interpret it. Going along with the class I know there really never is a wrong meaning or pronunciation. These came up again when we started reading The Bacchae, when there were all the different names and since no one in the class was around to hear the correct pronunciation we just have to go by what we think it is, there is no right or wrong. Just giving it a try is really all that matters because there are so many different views.Figuring all of this out I come back to where I didn’t realize why exactly on the first day of classes, we were talking about these pants that were suspicious in some way. I have realized that since everything happens for a reason, Professor McCoy had her reason. With the pants still in mind I have learned that all interpretations are right and how there are many ways to pronounce a word. There is not a right or wrong in your opinion and everything is interpreted differently.