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An American Marriage


A masterpiece of storytelling, and a 2018 Oprah's Book Club Selection.
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Discuss An American Marriage by Tayari Jones:
How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

Created: 04/09/19

Replies: 18

Posted Apr. 09, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1973

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How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

You may not have noticed that Tayari Jones does not specify the race of the woman who accuses Roy of rape. How did you picture this woman? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline? 


Posted Apr. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggyt

Join Date: 08/10/17

Posts: 97

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RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

initially I thought she was white but then I thought that was unlikely since he seemed to feel so comfortable with her and in a way he compares her to his mother. On further reflection, I thought that if she was white, Roy would have been more reticent and would not have gone into her room and confided in her.


Posted Apr. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 157

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RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I was sympathetic to the women because her mistake is plausible. Based on the set of circumstances surrounding Roy’s offer to help and then coming into her hotel room, she was not being malicious just frightened and confused. The women’s race didn’t change how I understood the storyline. To me, the storyline was about the impact of incarceration on Celestial and Roy’s marriage and not about how and why he went to prison.


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jennluna

Join Date: 03/12/19

Posts: 4

RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I pictured her as an older white woman. I then understood that she could possibly make the mistake in accusing Roy, as maybe, when she was describing him, she could only picture Roy because she had spent time with him and actually felt somewhat comfortable with him at the time they met. Also, I imagined that it was dark when she was attacked and maybe all she saw was a darker man and then immediately jumped to the conclusion that it was Roy. A bias on her part that was detrimental to Roy.


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

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RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I initially pictured her as an elderly white woman. If the man who raped her was black, she would have immediately identified him as he'd been in her house and knew the door didn't latch properly. It would have been easy for her to jump to that conclusion as she would have been more focused on the color of the man. A black woman may have picked up other identifying features than just the blackness of the man.


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 369

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RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I also think the woman must have been white. There's a part of me that wonders if she'd been black, would Roy would have been convicted.


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
SusanC.

Join Date: 03/25/13

Posts: 28

RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

When Roy first assisted her I pictured her as black but once she accused him of rape I changed and pictured her as white, southern, perhaps a bit older. One of the members said that Roy felt comfortable enough with her because she was black. That made sense in hind-sight but I actually think this woman might have been white and possibly in her late 50s and early 60s. She was barely mentioned in the book but I thought about her a lot. How could she have been so sure? Why would Roy do this to her? She was so positive and the jury convicted him so quickly based on her testimony. She was obviously wrong and her rapist was still out there. Didn't that haunt her? I wanted to know more about her but that is probably the genius of Ms. Jones - she wants the readers to create the character in their own minds. Notice she didn't describe anything about her - not age, height, weight - nothing. Brilliant.


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
janeb

Join Date: 10/09/18

Posts: 21

RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

“A woman about Olive’s age, heavyset, with a kind dimpled face”. Because he mentions Olive, I thought she is a black woman. He carries her ice bucket and she lets him in her room-that would indicate a certain comfort level which seems a bit difficult to imagine between whites and blacks. I agree that a black woman would have been able to distinguish other characteristics and a white woman might pick any black man to suffice. But, any woman might be wise to avoid letting a strange man in her room so what is this woman's reason or is she simply imagining the whole situation. Celestial hopes a DNA expert shows up. Was there even an examination of this woman or is the local constabulary simply happy to incarcerate a black man based on her
testimony?


Posted Apr. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ABeman

Join Date: 01/14/15

Posts: 33

RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

Because Roy compared the woman to his mother, I initially thought she was black, but afterwards I wasn't sure. Based on the way the court case and subsequent conviction went, I reconsidered that the woman might have been white.


Posted Apr. 17, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
susiej

Join Date: 10/15/14

Posts: 231

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RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

Initially I assumed the woman was black - they were in a motel where they were comfortable and for that reason I thought most or all of the other guests were probably black. Also, she was so open to Roy, she even had him in her room. She had to be black. But later, after the charges, the trial, the conviction all went so quickly and without much contention, I thought that she was a white woman who probably felt guilty about what she had done or tried to do, or perhaps was angry that more did not occur and she wanted to get back at him. It is amazing to me that the author does not specify her race, but leaves it up to the reader - and actually, none of that really matters because it is what happened between Celestial and Roy after he is imprisoned that shapes this novel. What does marriage mean - for better or for worse? Who will stay and who will go and what will be the deciding factor?


Posted Apr. 17, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Sooz

Join Date: 07/29/14

Posts: 49

RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

It never occurred to me that the woman who accused Roy would have been white. I still feel that way and I agree with others who have said that whichever race she may have been, doesn't really matter-what does matter is that she sent an innocent man to jail based on the fact that Roy knew that her door didn't latch correctly.


Posted Apr. 17, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
marilynj

Join Date: 08/07/11

Posts: 54

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RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I thought the woman who was raped was white. It probably didn't make any difference in the story line, but it does make a difference if we are discussing the number of black men falsely accused, convicted, and incarcerated vs. white men. If we are simply discussing a love triangle, it doesn't. I think this is supposed to be a story of racial prejudice layered with the more superficial story of a marriage. Perhaps though, since the author didn't specify a race for the woman, it really is the story of marriage and its complexities.


Posted Apr. 18, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ruthiea

Join Date: 02/03/14

Posts: 174

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RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I also thought at first that she was black as she seemed almost like a maternal figure to Roy. Then when the charges were revealed I felt she was probably white, then I wasn't sure - I don't know if it mattered - although as kimk said, would he have been so harshly prosecuted if the victim had been black... I was first angry at her, then came to understand why she would have believed he was her attacker - mostly I was amazed that he would even go into her room and allow himself to be in such a compromising position - as a ball man he might have been aware that this was not a good idea.
That DNA was not used in the trial was crazy in this day and time - this felt a bit "off", but I may be expecting too much of the system in some areas!


Posted Apr. 20, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Carey Ann

Join Date: 08/22/17

Posts: 3

RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I immediately thought the woman was white. I thought Roy was at ease with her because the woman was the age of his mother. I also thought his education and business experience must have allowed him to be more comfortable around women of both races, since he probably was not in a line of business that catered to only his race. I don’t think we’re completely free of the double standard of what is still considered socially unacceptable between a black man and a white woman. I think sadly that “To Kill a Mockingbird “ is occurring all over small town America, with innocent men being falsely accused. Great book to cause the reader to check our/their biases.


Posted Apr. 20, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
SD Reader

Join Date: 02/10/16

Posts: 16

RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I too had a time deciding what her race was--and appreciate the points made here. I'm still undecided, but am more convinced that was a brilliant choice by the author. This omission leaves room for readers' assumptions (and prejudices).


Posted Apr. 21, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
GinH

Join Date: 06/17/13

Posts: 28

RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I made the assumption that the woman was white, although I'm still not sure. I do think the justice system is egregiously unfair to blacks.


Posted May. 12, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Beth350

Join Date: 04/15/11

Posts: 89

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RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I thought she was an older black woman and was therefore really surprised that she accused him of rape. It did not occur to me that she might have been a white woman - which would have made more of the plot to be another example of racism in America.


Posted May. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
lilliantpr

Join Date: 01/23/12

Posts: 42

RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I pictured this woman as a white person. My assumption is based on the swift trial and sentencing for this black man in the south. Roy initially helped her out, because of his proper upbringing and his need to waste some time before returning to Celestial after their disagreement. A part of me also believes that if the woman was black, she wouldn’t have accused Roy of rape. Assuming the accuser is white, the speedy trial and conviction suggests what is happening in today’s climate of racial tension.
In conclusion, me not knowing the race of this woman did not affect the way I understood the novel’s storyline. It was clear that being Roy an African American, a case of discrimination and prejudice was brought upon him. It didn’t matter to me if the victim was white or black.


Posted May. 25, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
scottishrose

Join Date: 07/24/11

Posts: 59

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RE: How did you picture the woman who accused Roy of rape? What difference does the race of this woman make in the way you understand the novel's storyline?

I thought she was white until I read this question in the back of the book. It made me question my own impressions of what happened.


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