If Beale Street Could Talk Questions and Answers
by James Baldwin

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When Tish refers to "crossing the Sahara" in James Baldwin's If Beale Street Could Talk, what does this symbolize for her?

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Olen Bruce eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Tish refers to "crossing the Sahara" when she leaves the jail where Fonny is being held. She says that she feels that she is crossing the Sahara and that vultures are circling around her waiting for her to fall so they can devour her. For Tish, "crossing the Sahara" is a metaphor for the difficult lives of the poor. They are always on the defensive, and the vultures, people like the lawyers and bondsmen in the jail, are ready for them to fall so they can make money off the misfortunes of the poor. Being poor like Tish is perilous, as someone is always waiting for her downfall or for her moment of weakness. The vultures are also poor and make their living preying off other poor people like Tish.

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Walter Fischer eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Chapter One of James Baldwin’s novel If Beale Street Could Talk, his 19-year-old African American female protagonist and narrator, Clementine, or Tish, as she is called, is describing her visit to the jail in which her boyfriend, the father of her unborn child, is imprisoned. Alonzo, or Fonny, as...

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