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What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day Essay

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Jennifer Whitcroft
WMS 487-01
Essay 3, Option 2

Pearl Cleage’s novel, What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day gives a glimpse into the life of Ava Johnson, a recently diagnosed, HIV positive, middle-aged woman. Ava begins the novel as a single woman in transition from a fast paced, close-minded life in Atlanta, to a more open-minded, life of opportunity in San Francisco. The transition brings her to her hometown of Idlewild, Michigan to stay with her sister for the summer. Ava’s transition ends up evolving into a permanent new life for her. The decision to stay in Idlewild, her relationship with Eddie, and all the decisions that Ava makes after being diagnosed with the HIV virus are based around what she sees appropriate for
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This paralleled with the stigma of HIV and AIDs being diseases primarily linked to the gay community, makes the choice an obvious one for someone looking to blend in and have the most normal life possible with the disease. Ava even mentions the possibility of exploring bisexuality, “I’ve even been thinking that when I get to San Francisco, I might be more open to the idea of having a woman lover” (102). Ava’s decision to stay in Idlewild was not a choice she consciously made at a single point in time. Rather, several factors over the summer went into convincing her that it was the place she should be. Involvement with her sister Joyce and the Sewing Circus was one of those factors. Working with the sewing circus gave the two women a hand in restoring the community that had once been a thriving place to live that its citizens were proud of. Helping the woman in the Sewing Circus gave the women a purpose and made them feel good about helping those that might otherwise have no means to better themselves. This served as a way for Ava to take her mind off of her disease and not let herself feel sorry about it. Joyce’s decision to take over custody of Imani strengthened Ava’s ties to Idlewild. At first Ava had believed that a baby in the house was the last thing that she wanted. “I am still less than enthusiastic about spending the summer with a newborn crack baby” (49). Ava didn’t hesitate to express that she herself had
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