Students make connections in ‘Mudbound’ discussion

Posted: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 11:10 am

Students attending the first of four “A Tale for Three Counties” book discussions at Genesee Community College, Batavia, were quick to profess their love for Laura and their anger towards Pappy, reports Nancy Jo Rademacker, who lead the discussion along with Julie Jackson-Coe.

About 35 students — from a variety of races, ages and life experiences — met the morning of March 3 to discuss Hillary Jordan’s novel “Mudbound,” which explores a period of time in the life of a black family and a white family struggling on a cotton farm in the Mississippi Delta after World War II.

“While we did our best to get the students to open up about the more serious themes explored in the book such as racism and war, it seemed like all present preferred the more intimate topics of marriage and betrayal,” Rademacker said.

There seemed to be a lot of animosity towards Henry, especially from the female students present.

Rademacker shared an interesting observation made by student Dillon Decker, a member of Rademacker’s English 105 class. Decker, said Rademacker pointed out that:

“… Henry was holding on to the farm, Mudbound, and the land because it was akin to LAura’s piano. To Laura, the piano was a family heirloom that she intended to pass on to her children and grandchildren.”

“As Dillon said, the land was important like that to Henry. He was determined to hold onto it so that he could pass it on in the same way his own grandfather passed his land on to him,” Rademacker said. “At least until Pappy (Henry’s father) made the poor choice of selling it after Henry’s mother’s death.”

Participants also discussed opinions about whether or not the novel would make a good movie, what actors would best fit the roles and what questions we hpe to have answered by the author when she visits.

“But the most encouraging part of our time was spent listening to students make personal connections between their lives, or the lives of their parents or grandparents with the characters in the novel,” Rademacker said. “It seemed to open up a very relatable discussion and I believe teached them something about the importance of reading.”

When we read, Rademacker said, “we not only learn about the perspective, culture and values of the author, we learn about ourselves in ways previously unimagined. That is what the college experience is really about.”

Additional discussions at GCC were planned the evening of March 3, the morning of March 4 and at 12:30 p.m. March 9 — the final discussion in this year’s Tale program.

Who would you cast in the roles of Henry, Pappy, Jaime, Laura, Florence, Hap and Ronsel?

Post your comments below or e-mail lifestyles(at)

You can also join the discussion on the “Tale for Three Counties” Facebook page.

Two discussions remain before author Hillary Jordan visits for a series of talks and booksignings this weekend. The schedule:

* March 9: 7:45 a.m. Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia; and 12:30 p.m. Genesee Community College, Batavia.

* Jordan’s appearances are scheduled for March 10 to 12. She has two talks and book signings on March 10: 1 p.m. at Genesee Community College and 7 p.m. at Richmond Memorial Library, both in Batavia. Other programs with Jordan are set for 7 p.m. March 11 at Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, Medina; and 2 p.m. March 12, at Perry Elementary/Middle School, 50 Olin Ave., Perry, in a program hosted by Perry Public Library.

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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