Study Guide: A Hope In the Unseen by Ron Suskind - Online Notes|
9. Bill Payers on Parade
Meanwhile Barbara Jennings and her daughter Neddy arrive in Providence by train, traveling overnight to arrive at noon. Her life back home hasn't been as stable now that Cedric's gone, with depression setting in and her finances slowly sliding into ruin; Cedric became concerned and asked Neddy to look after her. Barbara and Neddy arrive at the East Andrews dorm but cannot get in, finally being let in when Evan Horowitz and his family arrive. Mother and sister wake up Cedric in bed, who is happy to see them. Like many other parents, Barbara wants to take her child shopping off-campus instead of attending seminars and other scheduled programs. However, she doesn't want to take part in the more affluent stream of shoppers on Thayer Street, instead going to nearby malls and more familiar discount chain stores to buy Cedric hair clippers.
That evening, they return to College Hill and have dinner at Adesso; they feel uncomfortable at the upscale restaurant, but their waitress' candid opinion of the beet flan appetizer helps put them at ease. The following morning, Barbara and Neddy are ready to go home; Barbara notes that most of the other parents have gone to college, including many who were part of the counterculture. Ironically, while the rights of African Americans were part of the counterculture's agenda, they made up a small percentage of college students at the time. On her way out of the dorm, Barbara is stopped by Bernadine Dohrn, who is with her husband and son. Despite Bernadine's enthusiastic greetings, Barbara is wary and only briefly exchanges pleasantries before leaving for the train station.
The encounter between Barbara Jennings and Bernadine Dohrn exposes a difference in the priorities of these
two women. Bernadine embodies the progressive rhetoric and beliefs of the 1960s counterculture, but in doing
so turns the flesh-and-blood Jennings into symbols of racial understanding and tolerance. Bonding with the
Jennings is meant to make a larger political point for Bernadine, and to show how virtuous she is as a bastion of
a more idealistic time. Barbara is considerably more pragmatic - she sees no connection with Bernadine, as she
is not at all concerned with symbolism and political statements but simply with surviving financially and
morally in an unwelcoming world. As a result, she has no time for Bernadine, instead focused on returning to
her own world back in Washington, D.C., and all the demands it places on her.
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. 09 May 2017