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The Twelve-Mile Straight


An audacious American epic set in rural Georgia during the years of the...
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Discuss The Twelve-Mile Straight by Eleanor Henderson:
And what about Oliver?

Created: 07/20/18

Replies: 6

Posted Jul. 20, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
teacher reader

Join Date: 02/14/18

Posts: 8

And what about Oliver?

Did Oliver make things easier or harder for Elma? How did his intervention change the flow of the story?


Posted Jul. 20, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 125

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RE: And what about Oliver?

Oliver made things easier for Elma by offering to marry her and legitimize her situation. He impacted Nan’s future in a positive way because he clarified Wilson’s paternity. Oliver brought a sympathetic balance to the story.


Posted Jul. 20, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 229

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RE: And what about Oliver?

Oliver offers a way out of the trap that both Elma and Nan are in by continuing to live with Juke. He offers respectability and the protections that come with his family's social and professional standing. (Until his father's death, of course, he didn't realize how precarious their financial footing would become, given the delinquent mortgage.) He offered the real possibility of a sense of family; Elma was certainly prepared to love him as a (seemingly rare) example of a decent man. And that is his symbolic role in this story, too. Oliver is an example of a man who grew up in this racist, misogynist society, but did not buy into those values-- he resisted them. He was moved by his childhood experience with Daisy and her death that could perhaps have been prevented if she wasn't black, as well as by his own experience of suffering, and his desire to do good in the world, to help black people through his work on sickle cell, as well as his honest desire to help "the Gemini twins." And he does end up helping Elma, Nan, and their children, especially Wilson, not just in the way he imagined -- despite encountering the backlash of his community, and the foreclosure, he does offer a safe haven, and he ultimately helps Nan understand Wilson's disease and that Genus was his real father. So Oliver is a symbol that good men did exist in that world, and they were able to bring about change. He is an important argument against the idea that the novel "damns" the South.


Posted Jul. 23, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
annl

Join Date: 04/03/17

Posts: 25

RE: And what about Oliver?

It would be unrealistic for Nan to end up with anyone besides an Oliver. I think they are a logical fit.


Posted Jul. 25, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
renem

Join Date: 12/01/16

Posts: 185

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RE: And what about Oliver?

He seemed to be the only mostly decent person in the whole novel. He made life easier for Elma but not totally what she had envisioned.


Posted Aug. 11, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 356

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RE: And what about Oliver?

One couldn't help but feel sympathy for Oliver because of his physical handicaps. He is the rare decent person in this novel.


Posted Aug. 28, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
taking.mytime's Gravatar
taking.mytime

Join Date: 03/29/16

Posts: 97

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RE: And what about Oliver?

I liked Oliver in this novel. He made life easier for Elma and also for Nan. He enlightened everyone of Wilsons paternity.


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