Edward P Jones is included among the most celebrated writers in America. He has received a lot of literary awards from his contributions in literature. He has received the Pulitzer award for fiction, the award of the National Books Critiques Circle, MacArthur fellowship (2004), and many other related awards. Edward P Jones works reflect the plight of the black Americans as they struggle to fit in the American society. Edward reflects this in his writings, especially forming a great history of the African American working class in the twentieth century. Their lives were characterized by poverty, crime and many related challenges.
Biography of Edward P Jones
Edward Jones was born in the Capital, Washington, D.C. He was also raised in this city, and he attended the Holy Cross College. Afterwards, he attended the University of Virginia. Edward acquired the skills of writing in college and university, and started writing. However, he became actively writing after some years and won a lot of awards. Writing became Edward P Jones’ main activity, and he concentrated on reflecting the lives of African Americans living in Washington. In fact, Edward’s writings show a history of these people (Merkel, 9).
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Edward P Jones was brought up in an African America family. He understood the challenges that faced this group of people, and he sought to address these issues in the subsequent works that he wrote. Themes contained reflect themes that are relevant to the African American middle class. The challenges that these people face are evident, and this placed Edward on a pedestal that people sought to discover the history of the African Americans in the Capital.
Being an African American, Edward Jones had a lot of experiences that stimulated his creativity to reflect the things that the African Americans were undergoing. For instance, Edward came from African Americans’ the middle class, and these people faced a lot of challenges. They worked a lot, being greatly affected by the labor laws of the country. Some of them even got fired or retrenched in the industrial evolution (Phillips, 84). Edward Jones also experienced the poor life in Washington. He felt that the plight of the poor people should be addressed, and he used his fiction to address the issues of these people. Edward was integrated, fully, in the lives of the people. He writes from different perspectives to appeal to different groups of people. For instance, Edward addressed the plight of children, women, married couples and other members of the society. Therefore, a lot of people started to read Edward’s work since it was a reflection of their society.
Lost in the City
Edward P. Jones has written many stories about the life of African Americans in Washington, the nation’s capital. Edward devices characters who are, in a way or another, lost in the city. For instance, the main character in the story, Lost in the City, chooses to be lost. This character is a successful lawyer who learns that her mother died after she (the lawyer) had been born (Jones, 41). This makes her want to escape from her past life. This lawyer starts out to get to the hospital as a final good bye, and she tells the taxi driver to get lost in the city. The taxi driver tries his best. Although he knows the city so well, he tries to get lost. In the same story, a lot of characters including the girl whose pigeon roost is destroyed by rats and the woman who fears the loss of her social security funds are also lost. However, these characters are lost through fate, not choice.
Edward P Jones takes a very natural approach to these characters. All the narratives (apart from two) in this anthology use a third person narration technique. This is an omnipotent narrator, and he observes the lives of these people; he does not praise or condemn these characters. Thus, this creates credibility to his style since the reader is left to form his own opinion about the characters portrayed in these stories. For instance, a mother taking cocaine defends her older son’s illegal dealings. This woman’s life with many men is also not condemned. A lot of instances show this woman’s laxity to the rule of law. When her son kills her godson when he fails to pay for drugs, this woman opens the door to her residence so the escapee son could come home. The woman taking cocaine is not presented less considerately than the aged woman having problems at the Social Security office. She is called in for a scheduled check, but she does not get to see a counselor though she has made several visits to the office. Finally, the old woman, in total frustration, slaps the receptionist who has treated her contemptuously. From then onwards, the woman fears that she will not get her benefits.
In this anthology, many stories are bleak, but they also contain some elements of humor. They also contain a warm humanity that exists among many of the characters. This becomes one of the prevailing narrative styles used by Edward P Jones. Some of the stories contain a long story line, but, eventually, they come to the point. The whole of this anthology is a combination of stories that have been written in the context of African American life in Washington. Some of them seem to reflect other themes, but the background of this author form a strong basis for these stories; a reader who understands the context of Edward’s life will grasp the concepts of these stories better than a person who does not know this.
Analysis of Edward P Jones’ Works
The works of Edward Jones reflect the lives of the African Americans during a long time period. At one point, Jones says that the language of the folks in Washington influenced him to write; thus, he was integrated in the society, and inspiration to write came naturally to him. He utilized the experiences that he had to come up with themes to address.
A lot of themes reflect the lives of the people in Washington. In fact, Edward Jones works contain a lot of historical, social and political sentiments of these people. Edward Jones’ mother was terminally ill, and this made Edward work a lot to sustain his small family. The mother died, and this made Edward wander doing some small jobs wherever he found them. All this experiences made him feel the need to write; they formed the raw materials that acted to produce the works that Edward wrote. One of the examples includes the theme story in this collection, Lost in the City. In this story, the lady lawyer discovers that she lost her mother at an early age, and she seeks to escape. This reflects the death of Edwards’s mother. After the death of his mother, Edward goes in search of many jobs, and he seems lost to the world. He does not have a regular source of income, and he must travel to many parts of the city to seek some income (Sanders, 199). Thus, Edward is lost in the city; this is not self imposed, but Edward is forced by circumstances. On the other hand, the lady lawyer seeks to get lost in the city because she discovers that she lost her mother at an early age. Therefore, she feels that getting lost in the city will help her get in terms with the situation. This is self inflicting, but it also shows that Edward was influenced by his background.
In this collection of short stories, a lot of characters live in poverty. They work long hours so as to get their daily earnings, and they cannot afford many things in life. In fact, they do not consider a lot of luxurious things because they cannot afford them. In Washington, a lot of African Americans lived in poverty, and they had to work long hours to sustain their families. First, Edward P Jones could not make to pay full school fees for his education, he relied on a scholarship. This scholarship enabled him to continue, smoothly, with his education. After school, he did not find a good job, and he worked in small jobs so as to earn something. This is reflected in the characters that Edward constructs. Edward shows people who struggle to beat all odds to eke a living, and he struggles to reflect this in his writings. One critique says that Edward is a vessel of reflecting the plight of the poor in Washington (Sohn, 59).
Poverty continued to rock the African Americans in Washington during Edwards’s childhood, and he came to internalize the suffering of the people. Thus, he had innate perceptions of the things facing these people. For instance, he notes that people always had some negative attitudes towards the poor, and the poor could do nothing to change this. This is reflected in one of the stories. An old woman gets in trouble with a receptionist while she goes to check on her Social Security. In the heat of things, the old woman slaps the receptionist. This creates a lot of trouble for the old woman because she believes that she will lose her social security. In writing this story, Edward wanted to show that poverty disempowers people. This is because the poor hold a position that is controlled by those in power; the poor cannot get to these positions. Therefore, Edward seems to advocate for the empowerment of the poor people in Washington.
In most cases, poverty goes hand in hand with crime; there is a direct relationship between the two. Therefore, it is conceivable that a lot of Edwards’s works contain many crime episodes. For instance, in one story, a man kills another man because he does not pay for drugs. This shows that the society is full of people who take drugs. The society also seems to accept some of these crimes because they do not have other ways to earn for living. The mother of the fugitive son opens the door so that the son can return (even after killing a man).
Style in Edward P Jones’ Works
The greatest asset in Edward Jones’ work is the language used. Edward says that he fell in love with the language of the African Americans in Washington, and he used this language in writing his literary works. This creates a good rapport with the audience since the language used is relevant to them. The audience feels integrated in the concerns of Edward Jones’ works since their local dialect is used in the writing. This style also makes Jones communicate effectively. This is because it makes him address his feelings the way they come, and his inspirations do not get wasted.
Edward P Jones also uses an omniscient narrator in most of his stories. This style is very effective in that he manages to detach himself from the emotions of the characters. The audience can look at the character at a distance and form own opinions of the character. Therefore, this makes his work have no bias. For instance, Edward looks at the woman who uses drugs at a distance, and he does not judge her; he does not also empathize or criticize her. He just draws a picture for the audience to judge the woman. In the same vein, he does not judge or sympathize with the old woman who is denied justice at the Social security offices. These feelings are left to the reader and the audience to fathom. This makes his writing very effective since people feel a sense of achievement when allowed to form opinions on things (Werlock, 214).
Edward also uses people who are prevalent in the society. He uses people who are struggling to meet their daily needs, and this shows that Edward is in touch with the society. He establishes a connection that makes him credible in the eyes of the readers. The audience can be identified with the events in the story, and they can even predict the outcomes in the society. They will feel part of the events, and they will accept the writer as a voice that speaks on their behalf.
Edward P Jones continues to inspire many people in the field of literature. He uses his experiences of the society to construct his ideas in writing. The themes prevalent in his works reflect the lives of the African Americans in Washington. All in all, Edward P Jones used his background to structure the works that he wrote.
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