What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day

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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 those living with the disease.

At the beginning of the novel, Ava is in the process of leaving her life in Atlanta to start over in the “AIDS-informed haven that was San Francisco” (113). Her career as a stylist at a salon that she owned went out the window when people started to find out that she was infected with HIV. Ava had saw it necessary to write letters to those men that may have either infected her, or those that she also may have infected. When one man’s wife got hold of the letter and announced it in her salon, Ava began to notice a decline in the number of customers. “All those folks that had been giving me those African-American Businesswoman of the Year awards and Mentor of the Month citations and invitations to speak at the pulpit on Women’s Day stopped calling me” (9). It became clear to her that she would not be able to live the same kind of life that she had been used to for so many years, so she decided to make the move to the west coast. Ava expressed, “I wanted to move someplace where I didn’t have to apologize for not disappearing because my presence made people nervous. I wanted a more enlightened pool If folks from which to draw potential lovers. I wanted to be someplace where I could be my black,...
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