Tasha’s TV

The role of the t.v in part one of Tayari Jones’ Leaving Atlanta is not a large presence, however, it is an insightful one. Once it becomes present in the kitchen, it becomes a participant at the dinner table, setting the tone and filling their stomachs with emotions. Readers understand Tasha and her sister Deshaun first become aware of the Atlanta child murders while watching the news with their mother during dinner, “before she [DeShaun] could swallow, the pictures of the children appeared on the screen” (Jones 24). Something that is strongly opposed from the beginning of the novel, “this family talks to one another while we are at the table. We don’t need TV to keep us company” says Tasha’s mother, soon turns into a coveted source (Jones 22). While there isn’t a particular scene that may draw greater attention to their television, readers may notice the relationship it holds with Tasha and her family. As the murders continue, so does their reliance on the evening news. As they come together for their family dinners, the tv (news specifically) soon becomes a ritual, sitting “at the table that night in their usual positional the only evidence of the weeks that had passed without him was the little tv, which displayed the pictures of the lost children” (Jones 30). While it sheds a great amount of insight, it also leaves the family with countless emotions, layers of distress and worry. 

Being drawn to the recurring presence of the tv, I decided to create a 1979 TV that displays Tasha’s emotions from watching the nightly news at dinner. As each image of a child is shown, there is another layer of fear instilled in Tasha. Although I recreate the physical tv from the novel, I display the screen to be from Tasha’s perspective, what she sees and thinks when viewing, hence why I title it “Tasha’s TV.” The head-like cutouts are to reflect the missing children, each representing an emotion of Tasha’s. However, the TV isn’t the voice that is communicating this, it is the voice of the newscaster, which is why you see a female figure on the left of the screen who specifically portrays a brunette woman who hosted the newsbreak channel for Atlanta, WAGA-5, in 1979 and reported the news coverage of the Atlanta Child Murders.

Discussion Questions:

Where else do you see Tasha being informed of the Atlanta child murders in section one? Essentially, what are her other sources?

Reflecting on the scenes that follow after Tasha and her family watch the news, are readers able to detect a shift in tone?

1 Comment

  1. We are supposed to trust the news media here and it is astounding how the amount of trust we put into news media has changed since the setting of this novel. Tasha also seems to receive some information from classmates in the form of rumors. The TV, though, seems to be the omnipotent force in information and we, as readers, seem the trust it the most.

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