One element of the readings this week that particularly interested me was in Chapter 27 of the Sernett reading. William Wells Brown mentions that one young woman he talked to had told him that it wasn’t until she’d had a “shouting spell” in church that her Sisters believed she had “the Witness”. When he questioned her, she admitted that she had shouted not because she’d had some great religious realization, but because she wanted the Sisters to stop bothering her about it. This sort of strange peer pressure situation makes me wonder about the legitimacy of the Sisters. Did they actually feel something, a connection to God or some higher power when they shouted in church? Or did they all end up somehow being drawn into this situation because they wanted to fit in with the others in the church, or because they wanted to believe that behaving this way would bring them into closer contact with a higher being? Of course, there’s no way to know. It’s completely plausible that this shouting truly did cause them to experience a “Witness”, and that the girl Brown talked to was an exception. This phenomenon is just so interesting to me because it can be applied to many different aspects of our lives. It reminds me of freshman year, when a hypnotist came to perform a few nights before school started. He asked for volunteers to come up on stage and proceeded to hypnotize them and make them do all sorts of crazy things. As someone sitting in the audience, I definitely thought it looked pretty real. However, my friend was one of the people the hypnotist had chosen and he said that he’d had complete control over himself and had gone along with the hypnotist for the sake of the show. However, I heard from other people that some others who had been onstage had said they actually were hypnotized. There’s no way to know for sure, really. Maybe it was different for everyone, or maybe the people who said that they were really hypnotized were just going along with it, even after the show was over. This kind of group mentality just fascinates me, whether is be people in a (possibly) legitimate hypnotist show, or a woman behaving in a certain way just to fit in with the Sisters at her church.
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