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VARIOUS TEXTS: From: The Black Madonna by Muriel Spark

"I gather from Elizabeth*," said Raymond to Lou, "that there was some element of colour in your family. Of course, you couldn't be expected to know about it. I do think, though, that some kind of record should be kept."

"Oh, shut up," said Lou. "The baby's black and nothing can make it white."

Two days before Lou left the hospital she had a visitor, although she had given instructions that no one except Raymond should be let in to see her. This lapse* she attributed to* the nasty curiosity of the nurses, for it was Henry Pierce come to say goodbye before embarkation*. He stayed less than five minutes.

"Why, Mrs Parker, your visitor didn't stay long," said the nurse. "No, I soon got rid of him. I thought I made it clear to you that I didn't want to see anyone. You shouldn't have let him in."

"Oh, sorry, Mrs Parker, but the young gentleman looked so upset when we told him so. He said he was going abroad and it was his last chance, he might never see you again. He said, 'How's the baby?', and we said, 'Tip-top'.

"I know what's in your mind," said Lou. "But it isn't true. I've got the blood tests."

"Oh, Mrs Parker, I wouldn't suggest for a minute ..."

"She must have went with one of they niggers that used to come."

Lou could never be sure if that was what she heard from the doorways and landings* as she climbed the stairs of Cripps House, the neighbours hushing* their conversation as she approached.

"I can't take to* the child. Try as I do, I simply can't even like it."

"Nor me," said Raymond. "Mind you, if it was anyone else's child I would think it was all right. It's just the thought of it being mine, and people thinking it isn't." "That's just it," she said.

One of Raymond's colleagues had asked him that day how his friends Oxford and Henry were getting on. Raymond had to look twice before he decided that the question was innocent. But one never knew ... Already Lou and Raymond had approached the adoption society. It was now only a matter of waiting for word.

"If that child was mine," said Tina Farrell, "I'd never part with her. I wish we could afford to adopt another. She's the loveliest little darkie in the world."

"You wouldn't think so," said Lou, "if she really was yours. Imagine it for yourself, waking up to find you've had a black baby that everyone thinks has a nigger for its father."

"It would be a shock," Tina said, and tittered*.

"We've got the blood tests," said Lou quickly.

Raymond got a transfer to London. They got word about the adoption very soon.

"We've done the right thing," said Lou. "Even the priest had to agree with that, considering how strongly we felt against keeping the child." "Oh, he said it was a good thing?" "No, not a good thing. In fact he said it would have been a good thing if we could have kept the baby. But failing that, we did the right thing. Apparently, there's a difference."
534 words

From:
Caught between cultures. Schülerbuch. Colonial and postcolonial short stories (pp. 162-163)
Broschiert: 240 Seiten
Verlag: Klett; Auflage: 1 (Mai 2005)
Sprache: Englisch
ISBN: 3125775124
Preis: € 8,20


Annotations:
* Elizabeth - Lou's sister, a single mother with eight children
* lapse - mistake
* to attribute s.th. to s.th. - to regard s.th. as being caused by s.th.
* embarkation - departure
* landing flat - area between two stairs
* to hush - to make silent
* to take to s.o. - to like s.o.
* to titter - to laugh nervously


Assignments:
1. Briefly summarize the above text, which is the last part of 'The Black Madonna'.
2. Explain why Raymond and Lou have decided to give their baby away for adoption.
3. "...(the priest) said it would have been a good thing if we could have kept the baby. But failing that, we did the right thing." Explain the Catholic priest's ambiguous attitude.
4. The Parkers' attitude towards blacks seems to be contradictory: on the one hand, they enjoyed the company of the two Jamaicans, but on the other hand, they reject their own black child. Explain.


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