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The Wedding by Dorothy West

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Do you like the ending of the book? Why or why not? Do you think there is more to tell? What do you think might happen next?

I did not like the ending of the book at all, I feel like it was somewhat creepy that Lute is so persistent about marrying Shelby Coles, whom is having her wedding to another man that day. “ Nothing’s going to stop this family from getting what it deserves,” he explains, “you’re going to have a new mother soon to take care of you, and to make sure you grow up right.” (240 West) Lute is delusional about the fact that he believes Shelby will marry him. He doesn’t it seem to truly love her, he is clearly wooed by her appearances and feels for her in that way, but at the same time he had already married 3 other women, one of which he had beaten until she left and the others which he had treated like dirt until they finally left him. Shelby most likely wouldn’t be any different and he really just wants to marry her so that she can be a mother to his kids, however that may be the custom during this time in the 50’s it isn’t the most appropriate way of finding a suitor especially when Shelby is a big believe in marrying for love. After all Meade isn’t at all wealthy nor does her family approve of his social status and yet she wants to marry him because of love.
There is definitely more to tell in this story since the never actually get to the part about the long awaited wedding. Which is the event that the whole story revolves around and they go into back stories about each of the characters for the soul purpose of understanding how this wedding came to be and how the family’s social life effected the decisions of each of the children over the years.
I honestly have no idea how the novel who have continued since in the middle of Shelby’s wedding Lute and his white wife were inside a car with their three kids and only two of which were alive. I suppose the novel could go on to tell the separate stories of their lives after the wedding and showing how truelove was the right decision for Shelby. “Color was the false distinction; love was not” (246 West) is a quote from the narrator, which does close up the loose ended question between whether she were to chose Meade or not to love, leaving her to believe she made the right decision in marrying for love.






















What were your feelings after reading the opening chapter(s) of this book? After reading half the book? After finishing the book?

The beginning of the book really intrigued me, because I though the idea of this whole social circle and fitting in because of the color of your skin is an old yet interesting concept, now a days there are still social circles that are based on several different things however race no longer seems to be a very common reason for acceptance or denial. The narrator explains how their placement in the circle depends on things such as their ancestors, “They formed a fortress, a bulwark of colored society. Their occupants could boast that they, or even better their ancestors, had owned a home away from home since the days when summer hegira was taken by few colored people above the rank of a servant.” (2)
However, about half way through the book it became almost painful to read. There were so many additions to the story and back stories about the characters however they really didn’t seem to contribute to the character nor were they necessary. I feel the extremely in depth back-story for Gram was much too in depth leaving the book to be extremely boring. The fact that they had to go back two whole generations in the family and give a full life story of practically the full family tree of both generations including their friends and the friend’s families was a bit much. After finishing the book I can honestly say I was disappointed. The book lack something that made the reader interested in the whole book, not just the first tree chapters. The ending was dry, and somewhat odd. I think it was a bit unrealistic that with in one day Lute would fall in love with Shelby and decide he was going to interrupt the wedding, but instead his ex wife returns. The same wife that had an extremely descriptive story along with the two other wives which never actually make an appearance in the book other than to tell the story of them. My feelings for the book are also somewhat negative because it is so detailed and goes into so many back stories mostly due to the fact that the book takes place within one day, not allowing a lot of room for actual story line.

















In what ways are you like any of the characters? Explain.


I relate most closely to Shelby. Since the book only really shows the aspect of her love for Meade. Even though it was not socially acceptable back in the 50’s to marry outside of your social group and even less to marry someone of a different color. Against all of what her parents and her Gram suggest she is still willing to go forward with marrying Meade. “Shelby could only thank God that it was not too late for her and Meade. Color was a false distinction; love was not.” (246 West) I would marry for love whether my family approved or not, I would most likely take there concerns bout the person into consideration but love is a much better way to marry than social class. I also think that’s it is extremely admirable that Shelby, the daughter of an extremely prestigious doctor, marries a man that is in love with his music and has no higher education nor a steady income job. If it is love, no matter how much money or how little the money I would still go through with what I feel is right. I think its deplorable that when her family didn’t approve unlike her sister, she did not run away from her problems and elope. I believe it is very important to face such problems head on, and not to hide or run, because if you are truly content the people that care for you will accept your wishes. I would never cheat on a man in my life nor leave him for another man in a whim. I was extremely happy that Shelby did not allow herself to fall for Lute nor give into his wishes for her hand in marriage, and in that she realized she did not love Lute at all and that she was completely content with marring Meade as would I.




What was the author saying about life and living through the book?


The author, Dorothy West, was in fact a showing parts of life during her own time through this story. It was definitely a story that represents how times have changed, and how the rules of social circles, especially based on race is incredibly close minded. Like in the case where they wanted Shelby and Liz, her sister to marry people of the same class and race How ever they are unhappy with Meade. “But how Shelby, who could have had her pick of the best of breed in her own race, could marry outside her race, outside her father’s profession, and throw her life away on a nameless, faceless white man who wrote jazz, a frivolous occupation without office, title, or foreseeable future, was beyond the Oval’s understanding.” (4 West) The Oval, the community in which Shelby lives, was very uneasy about the wedding because of Meade, saying a lot about the influences that were put on young women at this time. Josephine herself, Shelby’s mother, is a rule breaker in the book by running away, just as her older daughter did, to marry a man of a different color. She was aware of the fact that her mother, Gram, would never allow her to marry a black man even though he was the son of a very close black friend. Gram thought ut was absolutely despicable that she would marry such a thing. However, unlike Shelby and her sister, Josephine and her father, Hannibal, did not in fact marry for love but instead just for the point of getting married. Since Hannibal was going to be financially stable in made sense for Josephine to marry him. This is also proof of how different the time was, how marrying for love was not all that important, instead class, race, and financial wealth were better factors in deciding who would be the correct person to start a family with. What was most shocking to me is the way that the author portrayed lute in book along with his ex wives and the way he treats women opposed to the way he treats his 3 daughters. He treated his previous wives terribly, he only married them when they were pregnant so that his daughters wouldn’t be bastards however he just ended up punishing the women he married instead until they eventually all got divorced. He would batter them and abuse them both mentally and physically. They were not partners he actually loved nor cared for, it was more as if they were live in maids that just so happened to birth his children. The way he treated women was absolutely repulsive and the fact that the women had no choice but to put up with it for an extremely long time was even more repulsive. The way men were allowed to treat women, especially men such as Lute, was cruel and unjustifiable. On the other hand, Lute was nothing but a loving father to his daughters, constantly coddling them and caring for them and taking the motherly role in their lives. However he was extremely interested in filling the role as mother with another woman, a woman named Shelby. This explains a lot about the time to me because of the way the women were treated and tossed around as if ragdolls that you could just throw away when they no longer became useful to men.






Who should or shouldn’t read this book? Why?

I would not recommend this book to people that I know how ever someone who is extremely interested in the life style at this time and understanding the mindset and concepts that were widely accepted and perceived to be true. Such as, “She accepted a brandy because it was medicinal, and the the sun, and the too tight stays, and the brandy, gave her palpitations that made her bosom heave back and forth in a rapid way that always unnerved the spineless, who did not want to see her drop dead before them.” (4 West) Though somewhat unnecessary and descriptive it still adds to the scene and the time of the book by just the manners that were appropriate and the ways that were used to alleviate stress at this time. However it is an extremely tedious book that would not be interesting to anyone who enjoys a fast paced eventful book. The book is not eventful at all, in fact almost nothing happens pertaining to the actual present story line of the story, in fact the whole book is based around a wedding and yet the wedding never actually occurs in the book. I especially would not recommend this book for anyone who believes it is a romantic novel nor is interested in reading a romantic novel. This novel has almost no romance. In fact it shows how little love is expressed at the time between couples. It also shows how many unhappy couples there are either because they were some what forced into marriage by the circumstances or were just looking for an easy way out of their situation and married. The book felt extremely dragged out. There were way too many people to introduced in the book to even name because it often bounces from character to character and many of the stories about the characters seem unnecessary only dragging out the book that much further. Readers that are interested in books that are extremely verbal should not read this due to the fact that there is very limited dialog in the book. The book lacks in narrative of dialog. There is very descriptive and well-written narrative for the actions occurring at the time of the story, but most of what you get from the book is description of what is going on in the scene and the narration of the feelings of the characters.



















What would you and your favorite character talk about in your first conversation? Begin the conversation.

Josephine, is in fact my favorite character because I believe that we have something important in common, Josephine is a very sickly women ever since she was born, and even though I am not nearly as sick as her I understand what it is like to feel so sickly all the time and to understand how sheltered and cut off from the world life feels when you are stuck in a bed at such a young age. I believe our first conversation would lead us to discussing how sick we have been in the past and the feeling of helplessness that is acquired. Unlike Gram my mother does not completely shelter me from the outside world and however my mother does somewhat baby me when I am sick, and it gives a feeling of hopelessness.

During modern times I could see us meeting in a hospital or a doctors office and discussing illness and the effect and pressure it puts on life and how sometimes making reckless decisions to escape from the shelter that everyone tries to put up and protect you seems like a good idea. We may even discuss how our families and surrounding friends have reacted to illness. How they are scared that you are too sick to carry on every day activities however at certain points we do become much to ill to complete everyday activities. The strain it puts on ones life to be completely useless for weeks at a time and the feeling of being beat by your own body is terrible, and feels like you are incapable of being the person you could and aspire to be.





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