Sweet Bird: Act II

Here is the link to the Quiz, which must be completed before Wednesday morning:

ACT II QUIZ Sweet Bird


Also, comment on/dicuss this question in the comments :

Examine how Boss Finley draws a parallel between himself and Christ during his television rally. How does he use religious doctrine to elevate his status?


REMINDERS–WHAT’S NEXT (everything posted on Pronote until the vacation)

–RDV for a timed OIB comparative essay test this Friday, 15H-16h30. I will email + post an essay topic at 15h and then you must send it back to me (either typed or photo of handwritten response) by 16h30 for full credit.

–The National Theatre in London is posting a performance every Thursday for free. This Thursday, April 2nd at 19H they will post”One Man, Two Guvnors” Featuring a Tony Award-winning performance from James Corden as Francis Henshall in this hilarious West End and Broadway hit. Streaming from 7pm on Thursday 2 April. Available until 9 April.

National Theatre Youtube Channel

You (and all OIB lycée students) have been assigned to watch this play and post a “review” on the blog. Take notes on what elements, moments, visual design and staging, you appreciate and use it to write up a paragraph “review” of the performance for end of day next Monday. Feel free to watch with your family!

–Act III Quiz on Sweet Bird next Tuesday.

7 thoughts on “Sweet Bird: Act II

  1. In ‘Sweet Bird of Youth’ written by Tennessee Williams, Boss Finley, a politician, establishes a parallel between himself and Christ during his television rally in order to elevate his status as a messenger of God.

    Boss Finley is an antagonistic character and a caricature of a ‘redneck’ pre-civil rights politician. He is obsessed with the notion of racial purity and has patriarchal views regarding womanhood. Not only does this politician believes whites and blacks shouldn’t integrate or copulate, but he also thinks his daughter Heavenly has been corrupted by her pre-marital sexual relationship. During his television rally, he uses his own daughter dressed in the ‘stainless white of a virgin’ to show his followers what he believes they stand to lose if they allow blacks and whites to fully integrate. He considers that she is ‘a shining example of white Southern youth – in danger’ Besides, it is interesting to notice that he named his daughter Heavenly, drawing a parallel with him and God by assimilating his daughter as a pure virgin coming from Heaven.

    Boss Finley claims that the Voice of God ordered him to protect white ‘blood’ from ‘pollution’, once again drawing upon his obsession with purity and corruption. These racists notions regarding integration are his main hopes to win his campaign. By saying that God called him to defend segregation and protect white southern youth from corruption, he elevate his status by pretending he is God emissary. Thus, he can justify his racist actions and beliefs by pretending he is is willing to do nearly anything to protect what he considers a sacred mission. The heckler doesn’t believe Boss Finley has heard God’s voice and believes nobody has since ‘the silence of God’. Indeed, if the ‘silence of God’ is a ‘long and awful thing that the whole world is lost because of’, it’s unlikely that God would break that silence to talk to Boss Finley, of all people. After all, Boss Finley is a man primarily concerned by his racist political agenda promoting hate and violence.

  2. During his television rally, Boss Finley goes out of his way to boost his reputation: he forces his daughter to wear the “stainless white of a virgin”, he considers himself a missionary of God and even degrades the black population while making a speech to defend himself against major accusations. Boss Finley is looking to appeal to his audience with the help of the Christian Doctrine. He poses himself as a savior of the “pure white blood” from the pollution which represents the black population. He recounts how his sacred mission began, how the Voice of God called upon him…

  3. In Tennessee Williams’ play “Sweet Bird Of Youth”, the playwright builds a parallel between the character of Boss Finley and Christianity through the speech he gives on television as well as in the image of his own daughter.

    Firstly, Boss pays special attention the image his daughter Heavenly displays. He wants her to appear pure like the Virgin Mary to the eyes of the public, as he says on page 56 « Looking at you, all in white like a virgin ». To him, white is the color of religious purity but also of the political idea he represents, which is to remove the colored people from the state.
    Later on page 78, he exclaims « Ain’t she Heavenly, ain’t that the right name for her ! », giving her a divine appearance close to perfection and transcendence. This means that to Boss, being a white virgin is a symbol of religious perfection.

    Secondly, Boss Finley sees himself as a messenger of God and tells Heavenly before giving his speech « I’m relying a great deal on this campaign to bring young voters for the crusade I’m leading ». Crusades were essentially religious wars and it employing this word in this situation is very strong and a bit out of context : it emphasises the fact that he considers himself as a religious hero, almost an apostle.
    He is so convinced of this that he even claims it in front of the whole public on page 84 « I got a mission that I hold sacred to perform in the Southland. […] Because the Voice of God called me to execute this mission ». The word “sacred” elevates him to the level of Christ because only Him can make things sacred.

    Finally, Boss punctuates his speech with religious references such as « The passion to protect by this violent emotion something that we hold sacred : the purity of our own blood ! ». Here he makes a reference to the passion of Christ and to the last supper that he had with his apostles where he sacred his own blood.
    Then he repeats many times the words “Good Friday” and “Easter Friday” on page 86, which are the dates when Jesus was dead and was resurrected.

  4. In Tennessee Williams’ play, “Sweet Bird of Youth”, Williams’ creates the character Boss Finley to draw a parallel between himself and God himself which will happen during his television show.

    To begin, Boss Finley, also known as Tom Finley, gives himself a sense of importance by saying that the “Voice of God” gave him a mission, a risen to live. “When I was fifteen I came down barefoot out of red clay hills. Why? Because the Voice of God called me to execute a mission.” Boss Finley gives himself power by stating that God guided him, gave him a purpose.

    Secondly, this “mission” he was given by God, is to make sure that black people and white people do not mix, “to shield from pollution a blood that I think is not only scared to me, but sacred to Him.” Once again, Finley uses God as his stepping stone to give himself a higher rank. Not only that but, in using God’s name, he is making it sound like what he wants, is not bad because God is on his side. Even though it very well is.

    In conclusion, Boss Finley elevates his status by using religion and the name of God. In using God’s name, he brainwashes those around him, who do believe in christianity, that the great-o-mighty God himself gave Boss Finley the power to go through with protecting his peoples’ blood from being pollution with the other race. He will be seen as someone sacred who was blessed with the Voice of God which will make people praise and adore him, if that doesn’t elevate his status then nothing will.

  5. In Tennessee Williams’ play “Sweet Bird of Youth”, the author uses the character of Boss Finley to create a link with god and religion to elevate his social status during his television rally.
    To begin with Boss Finley uses the presence of his daughter to assure his auditory that his link with god is real and strong. For example when he says to his daughter “You’re going to be wearing the stainless white of a virgin”. In this quote by using the symbol of “a virgin” and the metaphor of the color white, Tennessee create a vision of Finley’s daughter which is innocence and pure like a virgin and by wearing a white his father want his auditory to sees her like this and forgot about “the ugly stories” about her. In plus, he he uses the image of “lilies” which are a withe and majestic flower to accentuate this vision of his daughter as an pure and innocent girl, and by using a flower which symbolize nature it approach his daughter to god. To add, it’s not a coincidence if her name is “Heavenly”, her name get this idea of heaven and even more create a vision of her as a pure, innocent and beautiful like nature creature just coming of heaven where she was close to god. This vision of Heavenly close to god by all those symbol or metaphors make as well Boss Finley close to god because he is the father of this miraculous creature. So because of all this staging, the auditory of the television rally sees this family as model of god will, which make them more attentive to what Boss Finley says.
    Secondly, during his speech he defined himself as a god missionary so his audience could follow him easily. For example when he says “I got a mission […] Why? Because the Voice of God called me to execute this mission.” In this quote the use of ‘the voice of god’ give a reason of his act and make him credible to the eye of the audience. By this process he make the people agree on his comments of a racial superiority and his racism. Boss Finley uses God as an excuse to his act and word, this quote show it clearly “To shield from pollution a blood that I think is not only sacred to me, but sacred to Him.” In this quote the use of the capitalization of ‘Him’ make in his speech the hypothesis feeling of god more important than the statement of Boss. This make the auditory which want to be close to god as this Finley family, agree with the opinion of Boss Finley on this racial statement. In his speech he use God’s will to show he his just following it and this make him as a missionary from god in the audience point of you. This vision the auditory have of him make this people follow him and agree with him on his political scale.
    So in Tennessee Williams’ play “Sweet Bird of Youth”, the author uses the created link between the character of Boss Finley and God to make him more credible to his auditory from his television rally and so make him evolves in his social status.

  6. In the book Sweet bird of youth, Tennessee Williams draws a parallel between the Character Boss and God, throughout his television rally. Furthermore the character uses this religious image to elevate his status, in addition to his daughter’s: Heavenly.

    First of all, during his speech Boss constantly refers to himself as a “Messenger of God” to intensify the message he’s trying to get to the public: “Why? Because the Voice of God called me to execute this mission”: the character doesn’t hesitate in using a large number of times a sort of religious vocabulary to constantly remind the public that he’s in a way related to God. Indeed by doing this Boss knows he will definitely get a great number of people to support him as he’s setting himself to look like a “modern day Jesus”.

    Secondly the Character insists that God has sent him to fight to “shield from pollution a blood that I think is only sacred to me, but sacred to Him”. This tells us that Boss uses the analogy of him being sent by God and somehow being a kind of Second Jesus to hide his racist doings and mind. Indeed pollution represents Black people, while the sacred blood is a representation of white people.

    Third of all, Boss is constantly referring to his daughter as an angel. This is shown through the color of the clothing she’s wearing during the speech: white (which symbolizes purity and everything sacred). This is also seen when the Boss and his family arrive at the speech and the antagonist talks to the public about his daughter: “Ain’t she Heavenly, ain’t that the right name for her”.

    Finally, at the end of his speech, Boss constantly repeats the words “Last Friday….Good Friday” (which refer to Jesus) after Heckler cause a ruckus in order to somewhat remind the public who he is and who he was sent by.

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