Guide White is for Witching

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It frightens off the hired help and even insists on narrating some of the story.

‘An uneasy polyphony of clamouring voices’ – White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

I cried and cried for an hour or so. In fact, she stays even when Miri goes away to college and her brother takes up an internship in South Africa. At Cambridge, Miri befriends an African adoptee named Ore, and at that point the novel begins to lose focus. Throughout, however, the theme of displacement, both cultural and personal, recurs.

In addition to clearly establishing itself as participating in European gothic vampire stories, White is for Witching heavily incorporates European fairy tales. Fairy tales appear in the novel, both through their presence as texts within the novel, and through plot elements that strongly resemble some of the most well-known fairy tales. Then she went to bed all drowsy and full and she settled in to get ready for the next dream.

In fact, the only choice that seems to be hers alone is the consumption of chalk and plastic. Ore, on the other hand, is enchanted by a wider variety of stories and legend, consistently comparing events and circumstances surrounding Miranda to both European fairy tale, and also transatlantic stories.

'White is for Witching' | Object Retrieval

I mean it. Similarly, White is for Witching suggests that because Miranda cannot stay awake to remember Lily, Lily dies, and as a result Miranda is plagued with insomnia. Interestingly, Eliot attributes the power of life and death to Miranda, who conjures Lily through the colours of her black hair, and her affinity for red. Some kind of warning to her. I can make them grow. Do you know the all-season apples? They have a strange, dual coloring.

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If you pitied Snow White, then you know. The house explains that Anna had worn white throughout her life, especially in the most frightening and unpleasant moments: during her baptism, in an unpleasant middle school filming for a British program, and when she first nervously meets Andrew Good, her future husband. This passage suggests that the Silver house, bewitched by Anna Good, is behind the racist attacks occurring in Dover. One problem with the idea of white as a point of ethnocentricism lies in the racial whiteness of Germans, who Anna Good also hates.

In fairy tales the two notions are intertwined. In addition to this, Miranda contributes to her association with black by choosing to wear only black dresses, and sewing herself a black overcoat before she goes to Cambridge, which she always wears. Her eyes were small, wild globes. The skull was temporary, the skull collected the badness together and taught it discipline, that was all.

Miranda wanted to say, That is not my face.

Fantasy Books Of The Year

Through the mirror, Miranda sees Anna, Jennifer and Lily all dwelling inside of her, but also as an uncanny part of her. Mirrors reveal the sides of Miranda that she does not want to admit have power, although these women are inseparable from her own identity. In both stories, cannibalism never actually occurs, but is clearly suggested. Indeed, Teresa N.

Red is often symbolic of blood, the fluid that holds and releases ase, the power to make things happen. Other elements of the novel reflect a more Atlantic perspective. First, the traditional Yoruba practices and lore presented through Sade and Ore are important aspects of the transatlanticism of the novel. Taiwo Oruene observes that the birthrate of twins is the highest in the world among the Yoruba Oruene also notes that the Yoruba believe that twins come from divine origin, and represent the twins- god called orisa-ibeji, which endows them with supernatural powers and makes them divinely revered in Yoruba culture Porter 16 The presence of Nigerian characters in the novel becomes an important means of incorporating the Yoruba into the novel.

Ore is Nigerian born, but adopted by white English parents, and considers herself English. In contrast, Sade, identifies completely as Nigerian, despite her status as a legal immigrant. The Yoruba belief of abiku is important in this scene, which A. Arguing that Jennifer, Anna, and Lily are like these parasitic spirits, Cousins asserts that Miranda has stopped eating partly because she does not want to nourish these spirits, also shown from the padlocks Lily has given them Framed through abiku, the pica is reconfigured from a self-harming eating disorder to a sacrificial act intended to protect others from these dangerous, possessing, vampire-like spirits who sustain themselves parasitically.

After slowly driving Sade mad,4 the Silver house eventually electrocutes her via the kettle.

Books reviews with the occasional interview thrown in for good measure

Everything you have I will turn against you…White is for witching, so ti gbo? Do you understand now? Meredith M. Gothic Fictions and English Nationality. But watching, looking, is very close to witching in this book. And of course, if looking is witching, the very title tells us that white is for witching. This assimilationist witchcraft, in which the whiteness of the house slowly sucks in and defeats the life of other forces, is the real, frightening, unsettling power behind the book. What I wanted to know was — is it, or could it be, a happy ending?


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Is Miranda still somewhere, still fighting the soucouyant? Eliot still believes in her; Ore thinks she must be dead. Will she be able to spit out the winter apple and speak again? I loved the ambiguity, the slow twining and twinning of themes, and the uncertainty bound up in it.

This was well worth reading. I read the Icarus Girl by Oyeyemi last year and I remember feeling very confused about what was going on. I liked it, but I am not sure if I am ready yet to tackle another book by her. I guess at this moment, I prefer straightforward fiction. But definitely want to read this at some point. I think this one might have been more confusing to start. And I know what you mean about wanting straightforward fiction right now. Fantastic review of this book.


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I started it long ago and got distracted, and for some reason never went back to it. I really must soon! It worked for me, though—I pretty much saw Miri and the house as the same story. SUCH an intriguing review! And the multiple narrators, possibly untrustworthy…it all sounds fantastic. I cannot wait for whatever Helen Oyeyemi is going to write next.

I think yours was one of the reviews that made me want to definitely read this, and you make a good point about the ambiguity adding to the spookiness. I especially like this review, too, because it touches on a lot of the underlying subjects going on in the book and I always find that interesting. Also, re: Eliot, for me that ending scene was sort of like a revelation, mirroring the beginning of the book with the house. Excellent review — I particularly love the way you bring out the colours running through the various means by which characters die; that had completely passed me by when I read it.

I just found out yesterday that she has a new novel out! Lovely discussion which has sparked my interest! I liked The Icarus Girl too, but this one is a little more complex, I think, and left me with more to chew on. You are commenting using your WordPress.

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