The Auburn University College of Liberal Arts and Women’s Leadership Institute highlight our many events from the Fall 2013 semester, in which we honored and…
Tremendous art created by Advanced Drawing. Thank you most excellent students!
Tribute to Anne Rivers Siddons, October 18, AU Hotel and Conference Center, 5:00-6:00. Free and Open to All!
Students from Nihon University, Japan study Anne Rivers Siddons’ Heartbreak Hotel
The novel really starts to get interesting in chapters 8 through 12. What strikes you most about these chapters from Heartbreak Hotel?
Watch historian Leah Atkins discuss the history of women at Auburn University
Segregation, c. 1940
Take a look at what segregation looked like at this link.
From Heartbreak Hotel
In Mississippi, a black man has escaped from prison and Maggie observes as Boots (her boyfriend) and Otis recapture him, “And then a scuffle of feet in the alley on the other side of the jail, coarse breath sobbing, grunts, and a dragging sound as of something heavy, a dead weight, and they were there. They rounded the corner from the alley onto the sidewalk in front of Maggie. Boots and Otis, and between them, arms fastened behind him with handcuffs, stumbling with the force of their dragging arms, a black man in shapeless gray pants and a torn gray shirt, pulled loose from the pants. All of them stopped.
The Negro was small and squat, shorter by half a head than Boots, a head than Otis. His napped head drooped to his chest, his chest heaved with deep, blue-black under the streetlight, running with perspiration. He did not raise his head or move. None of them moved. Boots and Otis stared across the cracked pavement at Maggie, breathing hard. Boot’s yellow hair was darkened with sweat, his lips pulled back from his teeth, breath whistling through his nose. Otis wore the wild dog’s grin.
‘Got the last black sonofabitch,’ he said.
The Negro raised his head and looked full into Maggie’s face. His face was closed and still, but his eyes were alive. The whites were oddly yellow, veined with red. They held hers. Across six feet of heavy, swimming Delta air, Maggie read pure, naked fear, and dull hate, and something else. She read, as if it were limned on the air, a humble desire to please, to placate, to avoid punishment from the two captors who held him. Please, said the eyes through hate, I will do anything.
In a dome of still, vibrating shock, Maggie thought very clearly and precisely, That’s me” (185-86).
Siddons describes the morning when Maggie decides to write about her experience for the school paper: “In the morning, Maggie cut her first class. After the house had emptied of girls, she pulled her birthday present Royal portable from beneath her bed and took it out of its case and set it up on the green metal desk she shared with Sister. She made herself a cup of viscous tap-water instant coffee and lit a cigarette and sat down at the typewriter. She stared for a very long time at nothing at all, and then she began to type.
‘Last weekend, in Mississippi, I met a man I will never forget,” she wrote, even though I do not know his name.’
She typed steadily for perhaps half an hour, not stopping to correct mistakes, and then she typed—30—and pulled the last page out of her typewriter and put it with the rest and anchored the pages under her and went into the bathroom to take a shower” (208).
Maggie says in defense of her column, “I’m only urging reason and … empathy for the Negroes. I only said that to live … honorably … with them, we have to try to understand them, get into their skins, so that when integration does come, there won’t be … well, violence, shootings and things. I’m really only telling how I sort of … had a flash of understanding for one Negro myself. Or at least I think I did” (221).