Reflection #2- “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” —
Chapters 6 through 10 in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” delve deeper into the lives and personalities of the people of Savannah. For example, we explore Mrs. Emma Kelly and her tiresome lifestyle, the infamous Danny Hansford, and the seductive Lady Chablis. The reader begins to see that the characters/people are immersed in a culture of social complexity. Their entire identities seem to be wrapped up in where they stand within the social elite, which ultimately creates insecurity, co-dependency, and deceit.
In chapter 6, titled, “The Lady of Six-Thousand Songs,” we are introduced to Mrs. Emma Kelly. Mrs. Kelly is described as a well-known pianist and singer/songwriter throughout Georgia and in particular, her native Savanna. She is famous for her rousing performances, and the amount and kind of business she brings when she is in town. Infamous for traveling to all corners of Georgia to perform, she is rarely home, but is “religious” about returning home to Statesboro every Saturday just to attend church.
Ms. Kelly invited the narrator to attend church with her one Sunday and get a glimpse of her home life in Statesboro. The visit with her is extremely short. Both went to church early in the morning, attended the service, and then performed miscellaneous activities in church afterwards. One of these was singing in the children’s church and in a female bible study group. Overall, the narrator’s visit was short and sweet. What I personally liked most about this portion of the book was the fact that the author focused on the pleasant side of Mrs. Kelly, and used an optimistic tone while conveying her character to the reader. There were no secrets or lies revolving around her. She is described as a hardworking individual who loves to sing and be close to home. Emma Kelly may be what Savannah’s elite dubs as “normal” in this abnormal cast of characters.
In stark contrast to Mrs. Kelly, is the person of Lady Chablis. Lady Chablis, as I mentioned earlier, is a drag queen who has made quite a name for herself as a performer, and is a pivotal character in the book. She is a lady with “scruples,” yet lives an alternative lifestyle. I am starting to see a emerging theme — everything is strange about Savannah, in all of its patrons, travelers, and citizens. Not only is everything strange, but full of secrets and mystery. What I admire most about the author introducing these characters so close to each other, is how he shows Savannah’s true diversity of culture and lifestyle.
We then come to Danny Hansford, a rebellious youth in “Midnight.” He is described by the author as “[i]n his late teens…lean, muscular body, his tousled blond hair, and his tattoos…a cocky strut…He was a motion study in energy and turbulence, never looking right or left or acknowledging the presence of other people on the street, except on one occasion that she vividly recalled.”
In my past reflection, our narrator and Mr. Williams had a violent encounter with Danny. Danny stormed out of the Mercer House after demanding money. In chapter 9, we discover that Danny is known for much more than his violent and irrational behavior. Throughout chapter 10, a local college art student, Corinne, tells of her dangerous affair with Danny, and we get a dark view into Danny’s twisted life. Danny gives Corinne a tour of the Mercer House, because he is good friends with Mr. Williams. Eventually, things became intimate with Corinne, both in the house and in a neighboring park, but she refused him and his temper violently erupts. Danny is intoxicated and high on drugs, driving recklessly on the road. He then asks Corrine to marry him. When Corrine declines, he becomes almost insane. After words were exchanged, he beat her and flung her out of the car.
In my opinion, Danny also symbolizes a key aspect in this story. Danny portrays the absolute evil, chaos, and recklessness of Savannah. He depicts the underlying madness that is masked behind the pretty face — the beauty of Savannah. His character brings danger and uncertainty into Savannah, and also into the reader’s mind. The author, however, also sustains the environment of mystery and deceit around Danny, as if he is to play a major part in future parts of the book. We know this because not much of Danny’s past is known and his only true encounter with people in Savannah has been Corrine. Ultimately, Danny exemplifies how strange Savannah is at this point; and just how easily the minds of people can change toward evil.