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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:
Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

Created: 07/11/18

Replies: 18

Posted Jul. 11, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 1584

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Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?


Posted Jul. 15, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebeccar

Join Date: 03/13/12

Posts: 350

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

Yes, there is a lot of guilt because the citizens had a code of silence about White crimes against Blacks. There is a technical difference between being a bystander who is cheering for the deed and the person wielding the murder weapon, but it is equally disgusting and unacceptable.


Posted Jul. 15, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
kimk

Join Date: 10/16/10

Posts: 324

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

What a terrible thing this was. So many people played a part, and I think many were culpable. In my opinion, though, this was mostly orchestrated by Juke, and he bore the most responsibility. There were a lot o ways they could have explained Wilson, but Juke chose to be vindictive and have Genus killed.


Posted Jul. 16, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Marcia S

Join Date: 02/08/16

Posts: 169

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

The mores of the day made it acceptable to take crime into one's own hands, or the mo's hands. Juke wanted an excuse for the black child, Wilson. Rape was the excuse he used. None of those that participated were innocent, but Juke was probably the instigator.


Posted Jul. 16, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Peggy H

Join Date: 06/13/11

Posts: 235

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

Yes, they are all guilty, those who acted and those who stood by. It was not that unusual for the time and place. Other books speak of the lynchings and just this week we read of more study of the death of Emmitt Till, a more recent event. It is interesting how often the treatment of women is part of a bigger picture, no matter the time or place.


Posted Jul. 16, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
laurap

Join Date: 06/19/12

Posts: 215

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

Juke was the instigator, but he had plenty of help, most obviously from Freddie. Elma could have spoken up, but chose not to. The crowd of neighbors who participated were acting in the spirit of the the times, but that does not absolve them of their participation. I think attitudes toward women and toward race, held by almost every character in the book, placed a key role here.


Posted Jul. 16, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Maggie

Join Date: 01/01/16

Posts: 112

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

They were all equally guilty. A horrible crime.


Posted Jul. 16, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 59

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

I almost want to say that by giving the little nod of her head, Elma was culpable. She had all the power, right there, to end this horrible crime before it even happened. And she didn't. I realize things were much different for women then, but Elma didn't strike me as the kind of person who really cared what the rest of the town seemed to think about her. She chose to protect her father- -to save face- -over what was right.

After Elma set things in motion, every single man (including Juke and Freddie) who searched for Genus, watched as Juke tied him to the gourd tree and hanged him, hooted, hollered, allowed Freddie to tie him to the back of the truck, chased the truck into town, saw the truck driving through town, took a piece of clothing (or a part of Genus' body), and left Genus laying in a mangled heap at the mill was equally guilty. And what really makes me the angriest about all this is the fact that most of those men probably went to church the very next Sunday.


Posted Jul. 17, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
annl

Join Date: 04/03/17

Posts: 25

RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

Society then and sometimes now. Scapegoats are rampant, no matter the time or the issue. I think there are more scapegoats in the age of the internet. Folks play on other’s feelings and ignorance to swing attention or satisfy an urge.


Posted Jul. 17, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
rebajane

Join Date: 04/21/11

Posts: 211

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

I think in some way they were all guilty. But it was also the times. To many white people in the south in the 1930’s black people were still considered the lowest kind of people. As a result many black people took the blame to ease the guilty, and lost their lives. And many other people looked the other way


Posted Jul. 19, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
karenrn

Join Date: 08/29/13

Posts: 90

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

I think Juke was the most guilty. I think Elma was next in line for guilt. I think everyone else also shared in the responsibility to a lesser degree.


Posted Jul. 19, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckyh

Join Date: 05/08/11

Posts: 78

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

I think they were all guilty. Elma for nodding her head, Juke and Freddie for carrying out the act, the others for helping and/or standing by doing nothing. It reminds me of Kitty Genovese and all those who heard her scream and saw her beaten and did nothing. Guilty all.


Posted Jul. 19, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
melanieb

Join Date: 08/30/14

Posts: 125

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

All of the characters are equally guilty. Elma is guilty for creating the lie. Juke and George Wilson are guilty for maintaining the hypocrisy and Freddie for being complicit.


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: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

All the men present, and it seems eventually that included most men of the town in one way or another, were guilty as partipants or spectators or as willing to cover it up. It doesn’t matter who started it, Juke or Freddie. Elma certainly felt guilty —but I don’t think she was. I think many comments here have been too harsh. For two reasons: nothing she did or didn’t say would have changed the outcome — these men were bent on the lynching. And while she didn’t challenge her father’s lie, partly to protect her father, I think her larger motivation was fear. Her father had forced her and Nan into a small jail for months before they gave birth. He had the power to hurt them both, they knew what he was capable of. They had nowhere to go, no means of escape or support. And they had just given birth. No time to recover, to get stronger, to work out an alternative. I think we can’t fault Elma for lacking courage to stand up against angry men and the whole system of violent suppression of women and blacks, when it would have threatened her own survival and the babies— and when no man would stand up against his peers.

Elma does her best later to challenge the injustice indirectly by taking steps to help herself and especially Nan
to escape, by means of marriage. She lets her father know how angry she was, once he can’t hurt her. In the end, she refuses to protect him from Wilson’s gun.


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

Join Date: 01/23/15

Posts: 107

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

They all were.


Posted Jul. 21, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
MarieA

Join Date: 10/12/11

Posts: 193

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RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

Yes, they all are equally guilty--some for the lynching itself, others for being complicit in their silence.


Posted Jul. 21, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
josephinej

Join Date: 05/11/15

Posts: 31

RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

Equally guilty? Hard to say. Elma certainly bears some responsibility for nodding her head and not speaking up, but as a woman dependent on her father, rejected by the father of her child, and living in those times, it is understandable if not forgivable. Juke, certainly! Freddie Wilson, too, and all of the crowd that participated. I recently read On the Courthouse Lawn, by Sherrilyn Ifill, about lynching - horrifying to know about all the people who cheered on lynching. A very very sorry part of our history. I just hope it's in our past and won't happen again.


Posted Jul. 29, 2018 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
cindyj

Join Date: 06/26/18

Posts: 8

RE: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

Yes they are all guilty. I think Juke was the one behind it, but everyone bears some responsibility for not stopping it.


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: Who is culpable for Genus Jackson's death? Are they all equally guilty?

Anyone not trying to stop a crime like this is guilty. The whole crowd is culpable. Jake and Freddie were the ring leaders, but everyone involved, including the sheriff for not trying to get to the bottom of this, was responsible. This again was a sign of the 'evil' times. White on black crimes were abundant and nothing was done about it.


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