"Tell the Wolves I'm Home" Ideagram

By: Carol Rifka Brunt

Christine Semeniuk, English 9 Block H

Central Question: To what extent can prejudice be overcome?

Paragraph: ability for society to overcome prejudice

I believe that prejudice can be overcome to a certain extent, however the complete eradication of prejudice is impossible. There have been many examples throughout history when actions against prejudice have had a positive impact, from African-Americans gaining equal rights, to same-sex marriage being legalized in 38 states. Despite this, there are still many cases of prejudice or even discrimination against these groups, such as the recently widely publicized shooting of black teenager Michael Brown. Prejudice affects people globally, and it affects how people receive treatment for illnesses, who can be a part of government, and how much control people are allowed to have of their own lives. In Afghanistan and other middle eastern countries, women are discriminated against because of their gender, and as a result aren't allowed to freely work, socialize, or even leave the house. There are currently 78 countries, mostly in Africa and southern Asia where homosexuality is illegal. Millions of people are forced to suppress their identity because governments refuse to accept them as human beings with the same rights as anyone else. In the situation of "Tell the Wolves I'm Home," Toby and FInn have prejudice against them for being gay, and are frowned upon by relatives and friends. The main character, June, later witnesses the poor care conditions in hospital for AIDS patients. Some characters, like June's mother and sister overcome prejudices to be a support system to Toby in his final moments, but very few advances were made in this time period against homophobia as a whole. It has taken a long time to begin to accept LGBTQ couples as equal to heterosexual couples, and even so there remain many states that have not legalized same-sex marriage, and countries that have anti-gay laws. Groups such as the Westboro Baptist Church remain that actively protest homosexuality, and these groups with such beliefs do not show any indicators of losing strength. Yes, prejudice can be largely overcome as has bee n shown in the past with laws like those against African-Americans being removed, but there will always be a difference in opinion, and these differences make us human. We can't force everyone in the world to have the same opinions, and the actions that are taken by governments and activist groups to eradicate prejudice have a hugely positive impact thus far. Prejudice can be subdued and,for the most part overcome, but it is impossible for it to entirely disappear.

quotes: directly from book

quote 1: “It's hard to do that, to decide to believe one thing over another.”

"Tell the Wolves I'm Home" By Carol Rifka Brunt Page: 30

To me, this quote addresses the issue of people always having their own beliefs. Your beliefs are dependent on a countless number of things from how you are raised, your environment, to personal experiences, and people around you. In the case of homophobia and prejudice in general, this relates to how people will always have a difference of opinion, and that it is very difficult for society as a whole to fit into the same mould of beliefs. These differences in beliefs are the largest obstacle in overcoming prejudice, but are unavoidable because to make humans all believe in a single thing would take away all other types of valuable diversity. Brainwashing everyone to think the same thing would be just as unethical as promoting prejudice against a certain group. We have to sacrifice total equality to protect the individuality that makes us unique.

quote 2: “They segued into a more general piece about AIDS. As usual, they started out with footage of some kind of sweaty nightclub in the city with a bunch of gay men dancing around in stupid leather outfits. I couldn't even begin to imagine Finn dancing the night away like some kind of half-dressed cowboy. It would have been nice if for once they show some guys sitting in their living rooms drinking tea and talking about art or movies or something. If they showed that, then maybe people would say, 'Oh, okay, that's not so strange.' "

"Tell the Wolves I'm Home" By Carol Rifka Brunt Page: 137

This quote displays the stereotyping of homosexuals at the height of the AIDS epidemic in the United States. These broadcast stereotypes fuelled the prejudices against gay men, and gave them a generally negative, less-than-human image. While the argument could be made that these attitudes haven't been predominant in society for decades, there are without question still negative stereotypes about members of the LGBTQ community. Since is has taken up until now for many United States to even begin legalizing same-sex marriage makes me think it will be far longer still before it is legalized globally. Beyond America, there are still countries in Africa and other nations that have anti-gay laws, and we can't begin to make advances in these places without first making them locally. For that reason also, it will not be any time soon that homosexuality is globally accepted.

quote 3: "I needed to know that my mother understood that her hand was in this too. That all the jealousy and envy and shame we carried was our own kind of sickness. As much a disease as Toby and Finn’s AIDS.”

"Tell the Wolves I'm Home" By Carol Rifka Brunt Page: 349

At this part of the novel, June has a major turning point where she refers to Finn and Toby's AIDS as the disease, and not their homosexuality. The first step to overcoming prejudice is to not look at people and try to group them based on generalizations, but to look at them as whole individuals. June realizes that every person is flawed, and that Finn and Toby's biggest flaw wasn't that they were gay, but that they happened to be dying. She moves past her issues with Finn and Toby and sees just how flawed she and her own family are, and I think that is crucial in overcoming prejudices, especially those imposed on you in your upbringing - we are not above anybody, and for every flaw someone has, we have just as many if not more.

quotes: alternate sources

Quote 1: " 'They didn't approve of your aunt.' 'Why not?' 'She lived with another woman. For many years.' 'Franny,' I said. 'She lived with Franny.' 'You remember?' 'Yes. A little. Not much. She was nice. She had green eyes. She liked to sing.' 'They were lovers, Ari.' I nodded. 'Okay,' I said. 'Does that bother you?' 'No.' "

"Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" By Benjamin Allire Sanenz Page 285

This quote gives me a lot of hope that prejudices can be overcome by younger generations in particular. The character being told his aunt was homosexual, Aristotle, is immediately accepting and just sees people without the labels. This is in part due to his open-minded family and his own sexual orientation, but above all I believe this openness is caused by the younger generations becoming increasingly accepting and open-minded. As new customs, laws, and traditions root their way in modern society, it will be the younger members making sure that acceptance is wide and equal. Online movements are allowing the globalization of anti-homophobia movements, and are being headed by the younger generation. As we raise every new child into this world, people that have the openness of June in "Tell the Wolves I'm Home" and Aristotle in "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe" will be making more of a difference each day.

quote 2: "The Catholic Medical Association believes that sexual orientation is not determined by a 'gay gene' and that 'same-sex attraction is preventable.' "

Point - Counterpoint Gay Rights By: David L. Hudson, Jr. Page 12

The fact that this statement is no longer generally accepted as true provides a ray of hope, although it is slightly clouded by those who remain having these beliefs. In addition, the amount of time and energy that is being invested in science to prove that sexual orientation is determined by genetics shows a lot. Not only are there several movements on the social side trying to make advances, but there is now solid science backing the views of members of the LGBT community. 40 years ago, we wouldn't have had people willing to commit time and money to try and figure out something like that, but now there is constantly new evidence being shown from scientific studies and research that homosexuals cannot change, and that it is not to be treated like something that is a choice any more than whether or not you have brown hair.

quote 3: "During the 1950's, several people involved in the developing gay and lesbian communities began to envision a broader purpose for uniting that went beyond social networking. They compared the subjugated position of homosexuals to that of racial and economic minorities around them, and took inspiration from groups that were organizing to fight the prejudices and discrimination they experienced. These leaders, devoted their lives to organizing gays and lesbians to work collectively and improve the lot of all homosexuals. They insisted that gays and lesbians are a distinct population of oppressed people who need a civil rights movement of their own."

Gay Rights Activists By: Kate Burns Page 10

This quote provides a very strong argument for the positive advances that can be made towards eradicating homophobia. However, the fact that such movements as these were temporarily stopped because of the AIDS epidemic also shows how easy it is for old prejudices to return when people are afraid. It is easier for people to revert back to their old ways of thinking, and every time something negative happens people are very quick to take the easier way of thinking and following the main stream. There were some successes from the movements of the 50's, such as homosexuals being viewed as a repressed population, just as much as African-Americans. On the other hand, a large portion of the movement was shut down by people's fear, and that led to an ultimate failure to make continued advances with the same string of activist movements. This history of a lack of consistency with progress being made also makes me sceptical of any immediate, dramatic action against homophobia.

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Shown below is the enigma machine that was used to create the unbreakable Nazi code in WWII. Throughout the war, many people tried to break the code, but it wasn't util a British man named Alan Turing invented a machine to break the codes created, saving hundreds of thousands, if not millions of lives. This invention led to the creation of computers and other electronics that evolved from Turing's machine. Sadly, after the creation of the machine, Alan Turing was charged for being homosexual and forced to take oestrogen injections to "cure" him. This piece of history is important on the subject of prejudice because it shows that being gay does not affect your abilities, and that a machine invented by a gay man was crucial to all technology we use now - we needed that invention. It also shows much people and laws have evolved to not be anti-homosexual, which gives me hope that Alan Turing's story won't be repeated and that more extraordinary things like the machine that broke the Nazi code will be accomplished.
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