Study Guide: A Hope In the Unseen by Ron Suskind - Online Notes|
8. Fierce Intimacies
Chiniqua Milligan is the only other black student in Unit 15, as well as a fellow student in Wheelock's Wright seminar. The day after O.J. Simpson was acquitted of murder, Chiniqua runs into Cedric and tells him about a mandatory outreach meeting regarding this topic: Cedric had ignored it, but Chiniqua attended, emphasizing she was the only black person there before pointing out the typical impotence of that exercise. As a gifted student who is used to interacting with white students in high school, Chiniqua is experimenting more with black culture now that she's in college. She repeatedly tries to persuade Cedric to visit Harambee House, Brown's only black dorm, but he continues to resist.
A few nights later, Cedric drops by Zayd, who he now sees as trustworthy. They discuss O.J. Simpson as well as Washington D.C. mayor Marion Barry; Cedric notes how his presence is valued by other students, and that they take on his speech patterns a little when speaking with him. A few nights later, Zeina Mobassaleh asks Cedric about a reconciliation with Rob Burton, but he demurs. Soon after, Cedric forgets to pass along a message to Rob, who ends up waiting for a canceled study session. This leads to a heated argument between Cedric and Rob, with Rob going to his friends afterwards and Cedric seeking out Zayd and, not finding him in his room, leaving a message on his door.
Back in Washington, D.C., Cedric Gilliam has violated parole with his drug use and is sought by U.S. Marshalls. He decides to turn himself in to Captain Roy Grillo, a parole supervisor from Lorton. At his parole hearing, Cedric's current girlfriend Sherene brings attorney Idas Daniel, whom Cedric had heard about during his previous jail stay. Faced with parole board member Enrique Rivera, Cedric finds himself speaking up about participating in an in-patient drug rehabilitation program. Rivera grants him this, but Cedric Senior discovers such rehab programs are very difficult to get into, as prison cutbacks affect availability. At first he decides to write a letter to Cedric Junior, then opts against it.
At Brown University, Cedric is dismayed at the grade he received on his midterm paper for Calculus. He expected to do better, as it was just one level above beginner math. His roommate problem has cooled down, as Robert has taken to spending all his time with his friends on the third floor. New problems arise, however, when Cedric is teased with some homosexual banter while hanging out in Zayd and John's room. Such teasing is something the white guys don't mind but which offends Cedric and drives him away. He locks himself up in his room only to find a homosexual message signed by Ira and John left for him on his door. He confronts Ira in the middle of the night about the message, who denies knowing anything about it, and Cedric's yelling wakes up the rest of the dorm. A few days later, Zayd speaks to his friend Bear Beinfeld about Cedric. Zayd is the son of two counterculture icons who were once fugitives and have since reformed themselves. A couple of weeks pass, and Zayd speaks to Cedric about the new Tupac Shakur album; Zayd says he was named after Tupac's uncle, Zayd Shakur, who was a radical black activist his parents knew. With some mending started, the two students buy a CD at Sam Goody's together.
Tensions between Cedric and Rob develop as they negotiate their living conditions. Cedric's upbringing
contrasts sharply to the more permissive and socially adept choices made by Rob. However, Cedric quickly
befriends Zayd, who is comfortable discussing racial matters and is not judgmental about Cedric's opinions.
Zayd's unique background is reinforced when it is revealed that he is named after the Black Panther uncle of
Beyond that particular bond, Cedric alienates himself from his peers at Brown by condemning their willingness to party, drink, and have sex. Such moral rectitude was necessary for Cedric to survive his time at Ballou, but at Brown this stance seems less productive as it stunts social growth. His inability to accept the homosexual banter of people in his dorm further exposes the rift in attitudes between himself and others: based on his home neighborhood's sexual mores and insecurity about his masculinity, Cedric gets angry at even playful intimations along this line. This lack of tolerance - and the need to expand his view of acceptable social behavior - is one of the great struggles Cedric faces in his first year at Brown.
Back at Washington, D.C., Cedric Gilliam makes important choices of his own, as he decides to turn himself in to the authorities and request to go into rehab for his drug addiction. This not only shows the ability to correct one's wrong choices, but also paves the way for Cedric Senior to slowly make amends with Cedric Junior.
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. 09 May 2017