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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin: A Look at the effect of Parental Prejudice

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Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, by Tom Franklin, delivers a pulse-racing, mystery, tinted with prejudice. Prejudice comes from the Latin, praejudicium, meaning, judgment formed in advance of a trial (Young-Bruehl). Franklin recounts the lives of two men in Chabot, Mississippi in 1979, "a small town largely left behind by the 21st century" (Unlikely Friends). Larry Ott and Silas Jones had a secret and intense friendship for a brief time in the eighth grade. Although they have very different home lives, both men experience prejudice from the father figures in their lives. Studies have shown that children exhibit prejudice as early as the age of five and that one these views develop at such an early age is by “observing and imitating people” in their lives like their fathers (Chin 37-38). Franklin uses the story of murder and mystery surrounding these men to show that prejudicial treatment in childhood affects the choices made later in life and by extension, what type of person someone becomes.

Larry Ott becomes a withdrawn, isolated man who avoids people and situations because of the prejudicial treatment at the hands of his father. Larry, plagued in childhood with everything from asthma, to a bout with stuttering, develops a preference to spend his days with a Stephen King novel than outside playing ball. For a boy living in a rural southern town, sports are more of a requirement of manliness than an option. Not only was Larry not a natural athlete but his father, Carl, continuously reminded Larry that he was "mechanically disinclined" (Franklin 39). As the only son of the mechanic, people assumed that Larry should have been born with a wrench in his hand. His father's preconceptions of who he should be and...

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...n childhood by father figures. He shows in the lives of two men from Southern Mississippi that the prejudicial treatments affect the choices a person makes and what type of person they become.

Works Cited

Behe, Rege. “’Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter’ Transcends Place, Genre.” Rev. of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, by Tom Franklin. Pittsburgh Tribune 14 Nov. 2010: N. pag. Pittsburg Live.com. Web. 24 Jan. 2012.

Chin, Jean Lau, ed. The Psychology of Prejudice and Discrimination. Rev. ed. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2010. Print.

Franklin, Tom. Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter. 1st ed. New York: William Morrow-Harper Collins, 2010. Print.

“Unlikely Friends Color Novel’s Deep South.” Interview. Weekend Edition Sunday 3 Oct. 2010. Literature Resource Center. Web. 13 Mar. 2012.

Young-Bruehl, Elisabeth. The Anatomy of Prejudices. ed. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1998. Print.
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