Monday, February 23, 2009

The White Cathedral vs. The Yellow Palace

To compare the two libraries...
· Now describe the “white cathedral.”
· What social and community changes prompted Hall’s visit to the white cathedral?
· What were some barriers to Hall’s access to the white cathedral? How did this change her view of the yellow palace?

Hall first visited the white cathedral in 5th grade, and previously had been content with the library on her side of town which she affectionately called the yellow palace. She went on a field trip with her class which she describes here on the second page of the article Race and Place, "My contentent with the yellow palace was challenged by a visit to a branch in a wealthier neighborhood in my 5th grade year. It was one of those 'let's pretend to be a pro-integration' exercises that post - Brown v. Board of Education schools engaged in back then." Her visit was prompted by social changes to try to start integrating blacks and whites into one community. When she got to the library she was very impressed. There were no burglar bars, rows and rows of books, and the librarians whispered in soft, inviting voices. Hall's vision of what a library should be, or could be, was copletely changed as soon as she walked into the white cathedral. Initially she was astonished that a library as nice as the white cathedral could even be in the same system as her yellow palace. She wanted her mother to take her all the way across the tracks to go visit it, and her mom found time to take her there after the field trip. When Hall came to the library a second time, though, she did not leave as enthusiastically as she did the first time. The barriers of her access become more clear after the second time she visits. Clearly it is a barrier in itself to have to go all the way across town to get to the nicer library, but there are also other invisable barriers. The notion that the wealthier, white side of town got the privaledge of having such a great library made her side of town, and she herself seem inferior. The white cathedral "taunted" her library, which once was a palace and now seemed like a sorry excuse for a library. She noticed things about it she never noticed before, "I thought of the yellow palace's early closing hours as if it were racing the street lights, of how the cramped quarters spilled over with children all talking and reaching at once, and of how the clamor frustrated the librarians and shortened our story times. After seeing the white cathedral Hall lost interest in the yellow palace and even eventually stopped going all together. The tracks were a physical barrier to the white cathedral, but the idea that she wasn't good enough to have a library like that was really the most devastating to the young girl, and after seeing the great library on the other side of town, Hall couldn't even bring herself to go back to the yellow "palace."

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