On October 25th 1994, a lady by the name of Susan Smith strapped her two sons, Michael and Alex Smith, into their car seats and headed towards her mother’s house. But Susan had other ideas and drove to John D. Long Lake instead. When she got there she drove onto a ramp, got out of the car, put the car in drive, and watched her car, with her kids sleeping in the backseat, dive into the lake. The car sank with her two sons strapped in the backseat. After this immoral action she ran to a nearby house and knocked on the door sobbing.
She told the owners of the house, Shirley and Rick McCloud, that a black man held her at gun point, and had taken her car with her two boys. This story quickly unraveled into a national headline. Searches for this black man and her two boys were in full affect until on November 3rd 1994, Susan Smith confessed to driving her two boys into the lake. Susan Smith was sentenced to 30 years to life in prison. Years after the horrific Susan Smith case, Cornelius Eady, a poet, wrote a novel of poems that incorporates the fictitious black man, that Susan Smith created to cover her immoral action of killing her two sons.
Eady’s novel Brutal Imagination gives life to “The Black Man” and gives an interesting version of the Susan Smith case through his eyes. Susan Smith’s created character “The Black Man” comes to life and provides his view on Susan Smith, and her inhumane actions. The novel Brutal Imagination by Cornelius Eady, gives “The Black Man” in the Susan Smith’s case character traits, such as being caring, angry, and he knows he is made up. This monster, “The Black Man”, doesn’t seem like such a monster in one of Eady’s poems. In the poem, “Who Am I? ” “The Black Man” seems caring. “The Black Man” says, “If I am alive, then so, briefly, they are” (p. ). This means that if he actually stole the car then the kids wouldn’t be with Susan Smith and she couldn’t have killed them. They would have been alive as long as he had them. Besides being caring, “The Black Man” seems to show much anger directed at Susan Smith.
In the poem “Why I Am Not A Woman” “The Black Man” says, “The children didn’t mean a thing to that woman” (p. 18). “The Black Man” shows this anger towards Susan Smith because after committing the heartless act of killing her kids, she was just looking to get away with the crime. She wasn’t regretting what she had done. The Black Man” also shows anger in the poem “My Heart”. In this poem “The Black Man” says, “Like a bad lover, she has given me a poisoned heart” (p. 6). Susan Smith gave “The Black Man” the job of taking the kids and being the bad guy. “The Black Man” is angry because he can’t make up his own image she is making up his image. With that being said “The Black Man” knows he is made up. The poem “Composite” proves this when he says, “You can stare, and stare, but I can’t be found” (p. 21). He can’t be found not because he is good at hiding, but because he is a fictional character and he knows that. In the poem “Where Am I? “The Black Man” says, “From beauty parlor to church, They count the days Till someone comes back. We’ve never left. ” (p. 13).
This poem is based on when the nation was in search for “The Black Man” and the kids. He says they keep looking but they will never find him because he never left. He never stole the car with the kids. He was made up. “The Black Man” in the novel Brutal Imagination by Cornelius Eady definitely helps explains what happened in the Susan Smith case. It gives a better understanding in what Susan Smith said to the police. It helps understand how she described “The Black Man. Also it helps understand why “The Black Man” was created and what his purpose was. In the poem “My Heart” “The Black Man” says, “Susan Smith has invented me because, Nobody else in town will do what, She needs me to do. ” (p. 6). Susan Smith needed to make up a character as her scapegoat because there was nobody she could actually blame it on that would commit swuch a heartless act. The novel also gives a better understanding of why she chose “The Black Man” as her scapegoat. She needed to do this because to society this was believable. There was no questioning what she said. He was black and that all that mattered.
The poem “The Law” really shows evidence of this when “The Black Man” says, “But I’m black, and we both know, “The law” (p. 16). Racism in the United States still against today and was truly evident in the Susan Smith case as she made up “The Black Man” knowing that everyone would believe her. The black population of Union, South Carolina knew it too because at the top of page 18 it says, “She knew she could get further with this if she said a black man did it” – A black resident of Union, South Carolina. Racial issues still go on in the United States to this very day. Susan Smith was a cold-hearted killer.
In an attempt to cover up her murder she used fictional character as a scapegoat to the killings. The novel Brutal Imagination by Cornelius Eady, gives life to “The Black Man” Susan Smith created. The novel gives a better understanding to what exactly happened in the Susan Smith case, by giving “The Black Man’s” point of view on all aspects of the Susan Smith case. It also brings up the racial issues that the United States continues to have with the black population. All in all, Brutal Imagination’s image of “The Black Man” contributes to the understanding of the Susan Smith case.