Citizen, Pt. 1: Group 2

{Posted by Nathalie}

How do the visual images in Citizen affect your reading of the text? What does the image of Caroline Wozniacki on page 37 express that can’t be expressed by words alone? Would you react differently without the image?

2 Replies to “Citizen, Pt. 1: Group 2”

  1. The images that Rankine employs throughout her novel are used to illustrate the stories she’s telling. They serve as visualizations of the harsh realities of racism. The subtitle of her novel, “An American Lyric,” suggests that her intended audience is all Americans, not just those who have experienced this sort of racism first-hand. In providing visualizations to emphasize the pain that she is expressing, she is strengthening her point and allowing every reader to identify with the suffering that she narrates.

    The image of Caroline Wozniacki allows the reader to clearly see the incident being described. Seeing Wozniacki’s expression also allows the reader to distinguish for themselves whether or not the mockery was truly “all in good fun.” Was it in good fun, or was it intended to highlight the differences between the two players that make one of them inferior to the other, to remind Wozniacki’s audience that she is white, while Serena is not? Is that intentional? Reading the text alone, I don’t think I would have reacted the same way. There is a classic trope of white innocence which is emphasized in this very passage by describing Wozniacki as “smiling blond goodness” and it’s easy to fall back on that idea. However, seeing the image and being able to analyze Wozniacki’s actions make me question her intent. Seeing the image encouraged me to re-read the passage, and I began to seriously question the underlying intentions of Wozniacki.

  2. The visual images in Citizen are shown to make clear that racism is still very prevalent in the world today. The images represent racism through a visual aspect rather than just through words. The images allow the reader to visually see the events that have occurred, which portray how racism has affected the lives of others in the past.
    The image on page 37 shows Caroline Wozniacki “stuffing towels in her top and shorts, all in good fun, at an exhibition match” (Rankine 36). Caroline is displaying Serena Williams’ body in a way that portrays African American females having a bigger figure than those of white females. Caroline says the action was “all in good fun,” but this statement was made to belittle the situation. The action Caroline made was depicting a racist stereotype that has been seen in the past and still seen today.
    If the image was not displayed in the book the, reader’s opinion on if racism occurred may be weakened. The reader may understand that it might have been out of “good fun,” but since the reader does not know the relationship between Caroline and Serena, the situation should be seen as racism.

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