Songs as Family
Where does a song come from? A song is not just beautifully arranged words on a page, it is an encompassing display of a singers deepest emotions. In The Devil’s Dream, by Lee Smith, songs encompass a family’s continues strife and are passed down like genes, just as their struggles are. From the start of the novel it is explained that, “A song don’t just spring outer nowhere, ye know, hit’ll grow in yer mind like a honeysuckle vine just a-wrapping itself around all the times and all the people and places that is yer life,” (17) a song does not come from nothing, it is built on who one is and the experiences of one’s life. Just as songs like The Cuckoo Song are passed down through the Bailey family White Linen is passed from Tampa Rainette to her daughters. In the novel, White Linen/ One Morning in May, serves to mark a turning point for members of the Bailey family when in a moment of desperation they realize they will find the belonging they have been searching for through reconnecting the family by the song because of the songs significance to the Rainette family and the story in White Linen acts as warning to the Bailey family.
The purpose of the song is first seen when R.C. Bailey links Tampa Rainette’s singing of “White Linen” to his past change of heart from selfish deviance to his efforts to reunite his family. Tampa sings the song and R.C. is instantly brought back to a moment in West Virginia where he realizes it is time for him to go home. R.C. had been sleeping around and drinking to find a connection to the world around him. Through his egocentric pursuits he finds himself spirally closer to death. One morning he wakes to a gruesome scene with a naked woman and has no recollection of how he got there. He leaves as quickly as he can and at this moment of desperation, which the song brings him back to, he has no idea where to go. Just then he hears his mother, who has recently died, telling him, “Go home now, son” (88)...
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