Chocolat Question #17 ~ The Black Man

by Joanne Harris

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DeppInTheHeartOfTexas
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Chocolat Question #17 ~ The Black Man

Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Jun 15, 2006 8:23 am

Who, or what, is the Black Man and what does he represent?
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -
Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby lumineuse » Thu Jun 15, 2006 11:31 am

I think he is the monster under the bed that never really goes away. A dark primal fear that that is hard to pinpoint in many circumstances, unless a person like Reynaud comes along to personify it.
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Unread postby Betty Sue » Thu Jun 15, 2006 11:40 am

I thought of him as Guilt, Vianne's mother's guilt in taking the baby (she did take the baby, didn't she?). I felt she couldn't get rid of him because she never owned up to what she had done.
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Unread postby Raven » Thu Jun 15, 2006 11:42 am

Or C. all of the above!
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and the envious."
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Unread postby DeppInTheHeartOfTexas » Thu Jun 15, 2006 12:24 pm

Lumi, at one point in the story Vianne talks about archetypes and the collective unconscious so as you and Betty Sue say, he could represent guilt or fear in our collective unconscious mind. Raven he could definitely be all of the above!

Vianne says on pg. 50:
“How can we live here, how could we have been foolish enough to think her wouldn’t find us even here? The Black Man has many faces, all of them unforgiving, hard and strangely envious.”

And Armande says to Vianne in reference to Reynaud, “You know who he is, don’t you?...He’s the Black Man.”


Betty Sue wrote: I thought of him as Guilt, Vianne's mother's guilt in taking the baby (she did take the baby, didn't she?).


Betty Sue, hold that thought! We will be talking about Vianne and her mom on Saturday. :cool:
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming -

Wow! What a ride!

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Unread postby Endora » Thu Jun 15, 2006 12:57 pm

Fear of not being in control of one's own life?
Work hard, learn well, and make peace with the fact that you'll never be as cool as Johnny Depp. GQ.

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Unread postby fansmom » Thu Jun 15, 2006 1:06 pm

Endora wrote:Fear of not being in control of one's own life?
But didn't the constant flight give them less control over their lives, not more?

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Unread postby Endora » Thu Jun 15, 2006 1:14 pm

fansmom wrote:
Endora wrote:Fear of not being in control of one's own life?
But didn't the constant flight give them less control over their lives, not more?


I would say less, because they ran because they had to rather than chose to. But that's just my take on it.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Jun 15, 2006 1:27 pm

I didn't think of him as representing guilt, but someone who wants to force his beliefs or way of life on you, bullying you into guilt--thus controlling your life. So yes, Endora, it could mean control as opposed to one particular person. Although, I felt that wherever she went there was always one particular person who would surface as the instrument of control.
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Unread postby Raven » Thu Jun 15, 2006 1:37 pm

What I find interesting in "the black man" is that in this town, like alot of the other towns, he represents an authority figure. And in this town he is not only an authority figure he also is a Father. Contrasting roles for sure.
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Unread postby Liz » Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:06 pm

Raven wrote:What I find interesting in "the black man" is that in this town, like alot of the other towns, he represents an authority figure. And in this town he is not only an authority figure he also is a Father. Contrasting roles for sure.


Raven, I was always led to believe that the priest was God's representative--that God was speaking through the priest. In that sense, I would say that priests are authority figures because they are representing the highest authority figure of all. But in general, I think that priests tend to take a lower profile role in the political structure of a town.
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Unread postby QueenofKings » Thu Jun 15, 2006 3:28 pm

The Hierophant card in the Tarot deck symbolizes a spiritual leader, Priest, church Father, The Pope, a Rabbi, man of wisdom, quite a powerful person, but one who is very down to earth and conservative, a person who exerts a lot of control.

I got interrupted at work in the middle of this response, so later on I'll finish it. :-/

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Unread postby Bix » Thu Jun 15, 2006 6:03 pm

Liz wrote:I didn't think of him as representing guilt, but someone who wants to force his beliefs or way of life on you, bullying you into guilt--thus controlling your life.
I think my take on the Black Man was more like yours, Liz. I saw him as representing an oppressive, conformist society or religion with its rules about what is right and wrong. Someone who hounds those who are outside those rules for whatever reason and, as you said, makes them feel guilty and fearful for the choices they have made.
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Unread postby lumineuse » Thu Jun 15, 2006 7:13 pm

I guess part of the reason that I view him as the monster under the bed is that he seems to have been rather nebulous sometimes. It also seemed to be expected that he would be there. But that also fits in with Betty Sue's idea about guilt, because it certainly follows you if it is unresolved.

The idea that he represents the oppression of society works for me one one level, but not on another. There has to be a reason that you flee to a new place and still expect to see the Black Man. Maybe it's guilt, maybe it's unresolved faceless fear.
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Unread postby Bix » Thu Jun 15, 2006 8:57 pm

lumineuse wrote: The idea that he represents the oppression of society works for me one one level, but not on another. There has to be a reason that you flee to a new place and still expect to see the Black Man. Maybe it's guilt, maybe it's unresolved faceless fear.
Good point. I like your monster under the bed theory, especially because it is always there, no matter what bed.
Live! Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death! ~Auntie Mame


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