Not Logged in.
Book Jacket

Visible Empire


An epic novel—based on true events—of love, grief, race, and wealth.
More about this book
Author Biography

Piedmont's "first thought...was that the city had it coming." What do you think he means by this?

Created: 08/07/19

Replies: 14

Posted Aug. 07, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 3058

Piedmont's "first thought...was that the city had it coming." What do you think he means by this?

On the day of the plane crash, Piedmont is at work and watches the black-and-white footage of the wreckage on the small TV above the counter. "His first thought--and he felt bad for it after, though that didn't stop him from thinking it in the first place--was that the city had it coming" (page 42). What do you think he means by this?


Posted Aug. 12, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
djcminor

Join Date: 03/14/19

Posts: 184

RE: Piedmont's "first thought...was that the city had it coming." What do you think he means by this?

Blacks had experienced terrible tragedies and injustice for a very long time. At some point, things must change and sometimes that includes retribution or uprising of one form or another. I worried for Piedmont from the moment he walked out of his mother's apartment. In fact, when Coleman ended up in the ditch, I feared he had hit Piedmont instead of an armadillo as he claimed.


Posted Aug. 12, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
teacher reader

Join Date: 02/14/18

Posts: 47

RE: Piedmont's "first thought...was that the city had it coming." What do you think he means by this?

I can understand how that might have been the first reaction of a young black man raised at that time--when things were not fair for blacks anywhere and racism was more open in the South. To his credit, he felt bad for having the thought. Both he and Lily represented people who were open to the idea of racial equality--the people who are actually responsible for what progress has been made in civil rights.


Posted Aug. 12, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dorinned

Join Date: 10/13/14

Posts: 176

RE: Piedmont's "first thought...was that the city had it coming." What do you think he means by this?

The treatment of blacks during the time of this novel was quite different than now; there was a lot of discrimination. Piedmont was a very sympathetic character, one I really liked. He was so bright; I wanted him to be successful. Many of the people who died in the airplane crash were well-to-do white people who were those who regarded blacks as service people first, and ignored their human qualities.


Posted Aug. 13, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
peggyt

Join Date: 08/10/17

Posts: 215

RE: Piedmont's "first thought...was that the city had it coming." What do you think he means by this?

I think I would have to respectfully disagree that the treatment of people of color is much different now from how it was then. However, I think Piedmont had a personal reason to be angry in that he was denied a place at the school that was to be integrated. His mother had built that idea up to him so much that it was a terrible disappointment to him and maybe he felt that it had ruined his life so he was angry at the city and everyone in it.


Posted Aug. 13, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ritai

Join Date: 02/15/17

Posts: 24

RE: Piedmont's "first thought...was that the city had it coming." What do you think he means by this?

I think Piedmont’s original feelings about the crash were justifiable given the way blacks were treated in that time period. The people who died in the crash were rich white people who were most likely responsible for holding the blacks down. Piedmont had also just been denied admission to an integrated school, so he was most likely mad at not only the city of Atlanta but white people in general. Piedmont was my favorite character in the book.


Posted Aug. 13, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rorya

Join Date: 09/18/13

Posts: 20

RE: Piedmont's

A city gets complacent. A city believes that what is is the way that it's meant to be and that it's fine the way it is. It's not fine. Piedmont had dealt with so much injustice, that for this to suddenly happen was a possible chance for something to finally change, perhaps for the better. The reckoning came for Atlanta.


Posted Aug. 14, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 496

RE: Piedmont's "first thought...was that the city had it coming." What do you think he means by this?

Piedmont has seen so much injustice, prejudice, and lack of opportunity that it is difficult for him to immediately feel sorry for people of privilege whose lives were cut short; in his community, his family has always lived with lives cut short - both physically and emotionally. However, it was touching that he also felt badly for his initial lack of empathy.


Posted Aug. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
jww

Join Date: 05/31/11

Posts: 166

RE: Piedmont's

Piedmont was bitter, whether he realized it or not, and after years of prejudice he had an honest reaction to the awful news. In time his thoughts and feelings matured, but his was a perfectly normal reaction in his position.


Posted Aug. 15, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 265

RE: Piedmont's

Piedmont’s statement reminds me of the “the chickens have come home to roost” quote from Malcolm X in the 1960s. I think Piedmont is saying Atlanta had the tragedy coming due to the way black Americans had been and were being treated. The context is one of reaping what you sow.


Posted Aug. 16, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 435

RE: Piedmont's

The blacks had been oppressed and mistreated forever. They had to live in fear of doing anything that might be construed as "wrong" by the white community, especially the wealthy. He probably felt that the death of so many white, wealthy Atlantic citizens was a form of justice, or payback for the wrongs done to the black citizens.


Posted Aug. 17, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dottys

Join Date: 09/30/17

Posts: 13

RE: Piedmont's "first thought...was that the city had it coming." What do you think he means by this?

As a black man in the south, it seems obvious to me that Piedmont felt that these wealthy white Atlantans deserved it. They were all in Paris - for a lovely trip, certainly not something he or anyone in his family could ever afford.


Posted Aug. 17, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 381

RE: Piedmont's "first thought...was that the city had it coming." What do you think he means by this?

Piedmont was filled with hope that an opportunity to attend an all white school would make a powerful difference in his life and that of his mother's. Despite his intelligence, despite his impeccable application- -it was one answer that ruined his chances. The white administrators, psychologists, and parents were not interested in a black man who would fight to defend his honor or opportunity. They wanted someone who would feel forever indebted to them for selecting him. They wanted someone who would passively continue to take abuse even though he had proved himself academically and intellectually equal to his white peers. They wanted a black student who would be seen and not heard.

I understand his comment and agree that it was a perfectly normal reaction. By the time Piedmont was working at the Purple Pigeon he knew even more about how opportunity and basic rights were denied to other black men and women through the stories shared with him by his roommates at the funeral home. It probably felt good to Piedmont that something was taken away from the white people for once.

I thought of the saying "what comes around goes around". We may think we treat people the same. We may think we are kind to everyone. We may think something isn't any of our business because it doesn't personally involve us. But there is a price for standing on the sidelines and remaining silent. Just because you may hand your black maid or black chauffeur your children's outgrown clothing or leftovers from a holiday meal, does not make you a friend of the black population of Atlanta.


Posted Aug. 23, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kkb

Join Date: 04/22/19

Posts: 12

RE: Piedmont's "first thought...was that the city had it coming." What do you think he means by this?

Piedmont was an intelligent black male in the south in the 60's, and had just had a huge let down with not being accepted to the high school. He knew that things weren't going to change anytime soon, and I feel that was his way of reacting, but even then he felt bad about even having a bad thought. It really showed his personality, and it was this way throughout the book. Piedmont had a kind soul and even though he wanted to be a bit harder, he didn't have it in him.


Posted Aug. 27, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 496

RE: Piedmont's

I recently watched a documentary on the Showtime channel called "Hitsville" about Motown. It was a fun, toe-tapping and generally upbeat documentary, but one section really drove home what the United States was like in the 1960's: famous singing groups (Black singers) were not allowed in many motels or restaurants and weren't even allowed to use restrooms as they traveled through the South for performances. I knew about this history, but having just read VISIBLE EMPIRE, it added more empathy to Piedmont's first thought. If much of a country does not care about equal opportunities or equal educational facilities, why should one of those humans who has been denied equal rights be overcome with grief about the loss of wealthy art patrons on an international trip with a party atmosphere. Piedmont's treatment at the hospital, when he basically saves the life of Lily and her baby, reminds the reader of why he has built that tough shell around his emotions.


Reply

Please login to post a response.