Intro to Literature ENGL 201
Williams War on Survival
Hurricane Katrina was one of the worst natural disasters to ever occur in the United States; it ruined lives, homes and everything else in its path. Only a handful of New Orleans citizen’s survived and we can count the Williams family to the list. The Williams are an African American family who lived comfortably in the 9th ward of New Orleans, before the storm hit. SJ, head of the Williams household is a carpenter who owns his own carpentry business. Rosetta, his wife died of an aneurism making him a widower, “The injustice of her being taken from the world weighed in his heart like an anchor.” As a Former Vietnam solider, SJ struggled with drinking and gambling upon his arrival back to the states. Had it not been for his former wife Rosetta threatening to leave him he would still be pursuing this behavior. He loved his wife dearly and had a hard time letting her go. “The only thing that helped, at all, was working with his hands building, making.”
Lucy Williams is SJ’s sister. She is a serious diabetic and she’s also had an on and off history of using cocaine and alcohol. She is a tough woman who’d been through a lot however, throughout these ongoing issues; she is also a mother to a teenage boy by the name of Wesley. “She loved Wesley, and Wesley loved her. And yet there was a part of her that was separate from him and everybody else, that needed to be dissolved in drink or smoke, answerable to nobody, and that part had made her be absent for Wesley at important times.” Wesley, SJ’s nephew is a rough neck who rides and motorcycle and is always on the verge of trouble. He and SJ bumped heads a lot in the beginning of the novel because SJ was not only his uncle but he took on the role as a father figure as well. SJ only wanted the best for his nephew but Wesley viewed it as his uncle just being bossy and overbearing. Wesley was arrested for hitting his girlfriend; thankfully SJ taught him how to behave around the police. “Wesley had a quick mouth and a mannish attitude, but he had done alright, at least he hadn’t gotten the police mad, and SJ got the call from the jail at 3:30 in the morning and SJ and Lucy had to go down and get him out on bond and later on SJ had demanded an accounting from his nephew.”
As you can tell the Williams are a close family, they’ve been through their share of issues and they continue to get worse as hurricane Katrina arrives in New Orleans. Before the hurricane arrives the SJ and Lucy decide to stay at SJ’s house throughout the storm. Wesley, who ignored his uncle’s request to help prepare for the storm the morning before, decided to stay at his friend Roland’s home. At this point in the novel the Williams start to proceed in their own separate paths. SJ and Lucy were stranded in the 9th ward after the levees broke and the flood water began to rise to the second floor of their home. It was until SJ thought to get his boat that he was able to get Lucy to safety. Once SJ dropped Lucy off at the Claiborne Bridge and she was able to make her way to the superdome, SJ begin to experience post-traumatic stress disorder while helping others to safety. “He was needed, as long as his hands held up on the oar and he didn’t overheat. -He had shifted into a mode of pure action, and he knew from experience that he would pay for it eventually.” “After the first two people he saw floating face down, he had wrapped up the part of himself that would react-. SJ’s nephew Wesley was on another side of town when he heard of the flooding in the lower 9th, he was then eager to reconnect with his family. After losing contact with his friend Lonnie, he was left one choice to go to the convention center for shelter in hopes to find his family.
Lucy eventually ends up in Missouri where she meets a Red Cross worker by the name of Steve. Steve talks to and comforts Lucy throughout her stay. While there, Lucy created a hustle…