Professor Parham’s elucidation of the differences between melancholia and mourning during class on Tuesday brought me back to a Crooklyn character I was still struggling to understand. We’ve briefly touched on the role of the messy downstairs neighbor, Tony, throughout the film, but his overlooked return in the final scene points to his importance.
Tony’s appearances are sporadic throughout the film, but he reappears in the crucial ending sequence when Troy is seen leaving the house to attend her mother’s funeral. The neighbor’s subtle presence in this shot does point to the notion that his character might have been used to foreshadow the film’s ending. His earlier dialogue referencing his deceased mother creates an unfortunate eeriness surrounding his presence in the shot, but also serves as a way to tie up the loose ends of his role.
(Sorry for the blurry screenshot!)
However, I don’t think his presence can be merely reduced to an opportunity for foreshadowing. In considering melancholia versus mourning, it becomes apparent that the neighbor represents melancholia while Troy’s grief (along with rest of the family’s) can be characterized as mourning. I found this short blog post that neatly sums up Freud’s points about mourning vs. melancholia. Tony is trapped in a cycle due to his loss. His house stays messy and he fails to interact and engage with the rest of the neighborhood. The loss consumes him.
Troy, however, copes with the loss in a healthy way. We see the family and the neighborhood thrive with her at the heart of both. Freud’s mourning is marked by a “free and uninhibited” ego, and the closing scenes signify this transition for Troy. She has recognized the absence of her mother, but isn’t trapped by this loss. It’s undoubtedly sad that a tragic loss forces her to “grow up” so quickly, but after recognizing it she reaches the state of mourning Freud describes.
Would love to hear what you all have to say about this. Am I simplifying it too much? Any other interpretations of Tony’s role?
Perhaps the aspect of Crooklyn that made me love the movie so much was the family’s vibes, and how much I related to it. During Troy and her brother’s scenes of arguing and fighting, I laughed and thought back to the numerous fights that myself and my siblings have had. The love that he portrays on screen is comforting and, thankfully, familiar.
I particularly related to Troy’s relationship with her mother. There is a special bond between the two. Though Carolyn is a strict disciplinarian who is responsible primarily for keeping the house afloat, she is more sensitive with Troy, her only daughter. This is portrayed in the scene when Carolyn and the family drop Troy off at her aunt’s house, and in the proceeding letters the two exchange. In the letters, Carolyn has a soft tone. She is understanding and loving and shares family updates. The way Carolyn recounts the family’s doings is almost the opposite of the screaming Carolyn that we see trying got get her kids to go to bed at normal hour or get them to turn off the TV. When Carolyn whispers in Troy’s ear, it gives the viewers the feeling that though we are getting a glimpse into this family, there are still some things that are for family only. Though there are scenes where she disciplines Troy, like when she makes Troy to a boy for calling him and his mother mean names, she and Troy clearly share a bond that is facilitated by their femaleness. In many ways, as seen after Carolyn’s death, their relationship is meant to be teach Troy, so that she may assume Carolyn’s position.
Zelda Harris is the real name of the actor who played Troy in Crooklyn. Because she was my favorite character, I decided to follow up on her to see what she is doing today. Wikipedia did not offer much information on Zelda, however she does have many social media outlets that do: Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Wikipedia said “Harris was born in New York City, New York to Karen and Philip Harris. She has a sister, Kenya. She attended Princeton University, where she was a member of the Class of 2007.” This led me to a link about her sister, Kenya, where I found some very disturbing news.
Once again, police officers were abusing their authority only this time a woman was involved. A pregnant woman to be exact. In 2011, Kenya Harris went to the police station to pick up her son who had been arrested. After waiting five hours, she complained to the officers that she had other children to tend to at home and that she needed her son soon. The officer became upset because he “did not like her tone” and threatened to “slam [Kenya’s] head into the floor” if she didn’t be quiet. She refused to be quiet and he did exactly as he said. Not only did he slam her into the floor, but he threw her in a cell for the night as well. Kenya was denied medical attention and must I remind you she was PREGNANT.
Unfortunately, the story gets worse. Kenya Harris was released from the jail the following day and she immediately went to the hospital. At the hospital she discovered that the excessive force used by the officer resulted in a miscarriage. She sued the police department for $50,000 and punitive damages.
Additionally, does anyone know the significance of the nickname Coomish Mimmish? I tried googling it and I can’t find anything clear or specific.