Indigo By Hitchcock

People are born with passion. The irony is that most people spend all their
lives searching for that passion without looking inside that soul to the heart
of the passion. The trick to discovering that passion is to find what makes us
happy. For Indigo the main character of Sassafras, Cypress and Indigo by her
passion lies in the music she creates from her soul while using her violin as
her tool. From a modern literary criticism standpoint this passion is seen
through her characterization and the symbolic use of the violin. However in
peeling back the layers and focusing on this story from a Post Modern
standpoint the reader uncovers deeper issues. There is a sense of discontinuity
in the linear structure that leads to a discovery about the cultural issues in
this story. Indigo challenges the boundaries of her age and a society that
struggles to find a place for her and her soul. That is going under the
assumption that there is a place. “Indigo did not tell her mother about Mr.

Lucas being so evil, nor did she mention that her new fiddle could
talk.”(Norton 43) With in the first few lines of the story Indigos violin
begins its transformation from merely and instrument to an extension of her
soul. Symbolically Indigos violin is representative of her soul. With her
violin Indigo pursues the passions of her soul as she struggles to find her
place somewhere between childhood and womanhood. Indigos mother begs her not
to play the violin anymore at night because the neighbors complained about the
awful noise. She forces Indigo to take lessons or go somewhere else to play. By
rejection her violin her mother rejects the heart and soul of Indigo. Only when
she flees to Sister Marie Louises shed is she able to play her music and bare
her soul to the world. The violin takes on the presence of sin in her life as
her mother forbids her to play. It is the forbidden fruit that Indigo longs to
taste. Indigos character constantly revolves through the turmoil of a young
adolescent on the brink of woman hood. “Then she would blush, hurriedly out
the fiddle back into the case, the Colored and Romance having got the best of
her.”(Norton 45) Indigo is not ready to take that final step into womanhood
but she is brave enough to sample. Placing a label on the character of
Indigos out her into the category of a round character. Everything that she
experiences affects her both on the inside and the outside. IN fact much of
Indigos growth as a character is internalized and seen through the way she
plays the violin. Faced with the decision to learn how to play the violin by
record or quit playing for the people Indigo sets aside her passions and learns
ordinary music. Ironically, when this happens people stop coming by to listen
and the story begins to fall apart. Thematically this story center around a girl
who needs to find her passion and the steps that she must take to find them.

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Indigo needs to find her identity and the easiest way to do so is to explore her
thoughts and feelings through her violin music. Through the development of her
character Indigo is forced to make decisions that affect the outcome of her
music and ultimately her life. The story ends in a very somber tome with a
funeral sequence. Indigo realized that the time had come to say good0-bye to her
childhood and the dolls she played with. She dressed in white and her mother in
black as one by one she carried her companions to the attic for a proper burial.

Her dolls were her last connection with childhood and after her experiences in
the underground she felt it was time to lay them to rest. Indigos act of
burying these dolls before they reached womanhood with her shows her attempt at
sheltering them form growing up. “Mama I couldnt bear for them to grow
up,” Indigo said in the final scene of the story. Indigo knew that she faced
challenges that would her to heartache in the adult world and by burying her
dolls maybe that was one small way of sheltering a small part of herself. She
already experienced a little bit of the heartache to come when she fled the
underground because of her music. Imagine for me a concert hall filled with
people all with hopes of attending a beautiful violin concert. The violinist
walks out onto the stage and begins to play a dire melody that hurts our ears.

Of course your ears are not accustomed to this “music”. All your life you
grew up listening to Chopin and Mozart so this grating melody goes against
everything your ears have ever known. In fact it is so bad that people begin to
get up and leave and you with you classical trained ear really begin to listen.

The more you listen the awful minor melody begins to sound more appealing and
harmonious to your ear. The music affected you. For Indigo this was life. Few
people appreciated her music or who she was. Indigo in every way challenged what
the people around her believed was music. Her mother forced her out of the house
because she could not take the awful sound of her violin playing. Form a
post-modern standpoint this story flows with the issues of social restraints,
and cultural expectations. Indigo from a musical standpoint challenges what
people consider music. For her it was an extension of what she experienced
inside her soul. It was the depth of who she was. Sometimes that was not pretty
or what people wanted to listen to. “Indigo stood up turned her back and began
to play those strange erratic non-songs she played each night.” Indigo
followed the music instead of making the music follow her. It was attempt to let
the music take her on a journey far from the streets of Charleston that held all
the pain of her past and her peoples past. Her attempt to challenge what was
traditionally thought of, as music is a heavy postmodern theme. Much of post
modernism is about challenging what is normal and making people uncomfortable
with it long enough until they begin to appreciate it or bring you back to the”correct” way of thinking. Indigo is in search of a place to express
herself. Her mother forbids her to play in the house anymore unless she has
lessons. Indigo knows that if she takes lessons the violin will no longer sing.

Indigos mother tried to place Indigo into a mold that said music had to sound
a certain way or make you fell a certain way. Indigos mother is very
representational of society and its attempt to make things fit. This is contrary
to the ideas of post modernism and its almost urgency to not find places for
everything. Indigos haven became the underground of Charleston where people
went to gamble and drink. She played in the bars to men who had experienced more
than she could imagine. She brought out their soul with her un-melodic music.

She had the ability to take away their pain for just five minutes as she played
her violin. Her music offered an escape that they ahd not known was there.

However much like her mother the people began to realize that they could not
take all the honesty that Indigo expressed fron her music and they once again
placed restraints on what she palyed. Mabel, the bosses girfriend wnet out and
purchased records for Indigo and she learned to play by ear because she had no
other choice. Suddenly her music lost ots passion and desire as she was no
longer able to express her emotions and the emotions of the people she pkayed
for. She had been place in a box with a label on her. Much like the world tires
to do to all literature, and people. Another intresting facet of this story is
the challenge to linear structure. Shange in writing this challenges the readers
idea of how a story should be placed together. In fdoing that hough she insert
cultural ideas and expectations. Half way through the story indented on the page
our Indigos folk ideas about how to pick a lucky number.