At first, Phoenix
misidentifies the scarecrow as a black man or a dancing ghost. Both initial reactions reflect a longstanding and very local history of violence against black people, particularly black males. Phoenix has lived through much of this history and its changing iterations as the country in which she lives has transitioned from slavery to other forms of oppression and subjugation, including the poverty and racism that Phoenix herself experiences. The scarecrow represents all the potential of black lives that had been lost through the constraining shackles of slavery, lynchings, and general poverty and legal repression.