LISTEN FOR THE FIG TREE by Sharon Bell Mathis


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Beneath the insistent, if only sketchily relevant, black consciousness raising lies a very traditional moral victory for Muffin, who in spite of blindness, an alcoholic mother and her father's murder the previous Christmas manages to attend the Black Museum's identity affirming Kwanza/Christmas celebration in an ego-affirming dream outfit of pale pink suede. In the weeks before Kwanza Muffin copes more or less bravely with her mother's self pity, stresses the righteousness of patronizing black owned stores (a theme which receives a disproportionate share of dialogue), is taught to sew by a charming homosexual neighbor and saved from rape by another, and wonders briefly how to reconcile the blackness of her attacker (and her father's murderers) with her growing racial pride. This last problem is dismissed rather offhandedly considering how much it seems to trouble Muffin at first; nor can we ever be sure how much wishful thinking has gone into her dreams of marrying her sighted, silent boyfriend Ernie. In all Muffin's wardrobe grows faster than her maturity, but if sober observers, like Ernie, think that the blind girl's determination to overcome her problems with beautiful clothes is ""like riding a horse backward,"" Muffin's stunning appearance at Kwanza would be enough to boost anyone's pride. It seems to promise much more, but that fulfillment depends more on the reader's own response to the symbols of black liberation than to Muffin's.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1974
Publisher: Viking