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The Kindest Lie


A timely and soul-stirring novel about the lies families tell each other and the...
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Does Butch have any redeeming qualities? How does Midnight's attachment to his father inform his own understanding of race?

Created: 01/27/22

Replies: 9

Posted Jan. 27, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
barrye

Join Date: 07/20/14

Posts: 53

Does Butch have any redeeming qualities? How does Midnight's attachment to his father inform his own understanding of race?

Butch is portrayed as a racist who makes hateful remarks and projects a bitter worldview. Despite this negativity, does he have any redeeming qualities? How does Midnight's attachment to his father inform his own understanding of race?


Posted Jan. 28, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 1109

RE: Does Butch have any redeeming ...

Although Butch is not a great guy he does at least love his son. I'm actually surprised that Midnight didn't develop stronger racist tendencies, remaining friends with Corey and the other boys of color in spite of his father's racism and that of the other white boys in the neighborhood.


Posted Jan. 28, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 265

RE: Does Butch have any redeeming ...

Butch still has some feeling for Midnight and makes an effort to parent him even if it’s dysfunctional and minimal.


Posted Jan. 29, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ashleighp

Join Date: 09/15/20

Posts: 33

RE: Does Butch have any redeeming ...

Butch clearly underwent significant trauma that left him with no real ability to parent effectively or in a healthy way. He was also uneducated, underserved, and a racist. Unfortunately, generational trauma is a very real thing and it will take a tremendous effort from Midnight to break the cycle. He sees his dad as a somewhat constant in his life and is something that reminds him of his mother. He will protect his dad’s image for those reasons alone and therefore he will likely take most of what his dad says as gospel. His dad’s ignorance is creating even more ignorance on Midnight’s part - for example, Midnight is so clueless about racial disparity (because his dad would never want him to think that’s a thing) that he ultimately put his best friend’s life at risk (being so blasé about calling the cops and the fake gun because he doesn’t realize what sort of danger that is to a black boy, his friend).


Posted Feb. 03, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 466

RE: Does Butch have any redeeming ...

Butch did not have the support he needed when he lost his wife and daughter and then his job. I don't know if it was his bitterness that clouded his worldview and attitude toward Ruth's family, Midnight's friends, and black people in general. Was Butch a racist before his family and job fell apart? Did he just hide it better then? We really only see Butch after the loss, when he is looking for a scapegoat instead of taking control of the situation and tapping an inner reserve of strength or finding help to deal with all that has happened.

I got the sense that Midnight didn't pay as much attention to what Butch said or even how he behaved. He just needed to be close to his father- -to know that he was still there. Midnight's grandmother was best friends with Ruth's grandmother. It seems Midnight would have been more influenced by her attitudes and beliefs than his father's. Midnight's family was always so tired and overwhelmed with getting by day to day, it seems they didn't have the energy to deal life's bigger lessons. Therefore, he doesn't understand the issues of race--the ways in which he and Corey (and their other friends) are treated differently from him--and the potential consequences of that different treatment.


Posted Feb. 03, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
carriem

Join Date: 10/19/20

Posts: 264

RE: Does Butch have any redeeming ...

Butch's one redeeming point is his love for Midnight but often this is hidden due to the traumas he went through including the the loss of his wife and daughter plus his job and for this in particular he blames black people especially Ruth's family but was this attitude always or do we only see him during the sad time of his life.


Posted Feb. 04, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
windellh

Join Date: 11/05/17

Posts: 72

RE: Does Butch have any redeeming ...

Yes. Butch really loved his son but was haunted by the demons of his past. He really had no reference point on how to be a father. It was a very sad situation for both father and son


Posted Feb. 07, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckys

Join Date: 08/12/16

Posts: 259

RE: Does Butch have any redeeming ...

I felt like Butch did love Midnight, and was just not equipped to be a single father. He also mourned the loss of his wife and I think Midnight reminded him of that loss. His racism and bigotry, were definite flaws in his personality, but many people are raised with those flaws and never see the error of their thoughts because they don't try to educate themselves or look at things from a different lens. I look at my own father, who has deep rooted racism that he doesn't even acknowledge as racism. He never was around any people of different colors or cultures in his path, and therefore, didn't learn anything different than the pre conceived notions of his own parents and family. I still think he is a good person, and a good father, that is just a huge flaw that I try to just accept about him. And I am grateful, that I have been able to have experiences in life that showed me that people should not be treated differently because of the color of their skin.


Posted Feb. 24, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
taking.mytime's Gravatar
taking.mytime

Join Date: 03/29/16

Posts: 424

RE: Does Butch have any redeeming ...

Butch is a racist. He is not a good role model for Midnight. Butch was a product of how he was raised. He could have changed, but why bother? His life was okay as far as he was concerned. He did not have the capacity or understanding to raise a son. Again, he was a product of his own upbringing with no ambition to make changes.


Posted Feb. 25, 2022 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
juliaa

Join Date: 12/03/11

Posts: 280

RE: Does Butch have any redeeming ...

For me, Butch's sole redeeming quality was his love for Midnight. It seems that before the untimely death of his wife, Butch was much more functional than he subsequently became. He drinks too much and he is, as others have pointed out, a racist but he does in so far as he is capable, love his son. Butch isn't someone I would like to have known, but I do respect that he loves his son even though he can't care for him properly in material ways.


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