For Cedric Jennings, television symbolizes the middle-class world that he yearns to join. In his childhood, television serves as his escape from the realities of his poverty-stricken home life, and later becomes a source of references and connections that help him to overcome race and class differences with his classmates at Brown. While he and his mother, Barbara, often had to go without food or heat during his childhood, Cedric had a television in his bedroom, giving him a window into worlds that were vastly different from his own, and allowing him to set aside his concerns about grades, test scores, bullying, and money trouble. During his first weeks as a college student, Cedric found that comparing his new classmates to television characters allowed him to connect with them through shared cultural references, giving him a sense of relevance and belonging. Considering that there were many aspects of middle-class life that Cedric did not know or understand, his television references made this new world much less foreign and confusing for him.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Television appears in A Hope in the Unseen. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Something to Push Against
...the nicest places they’ve lived. Cedric has his own room, complete with his own color television (that his mother finally paid off, at the exorbitant price of $1,500, after three years).... (full context)
Chapter 7: Goodbye to Yesterday
...most of Cedric’s belongings out herself, and now he is left to pick up his television—his “date every Friday night.” They leave the apartment and get into a Dodge Caravan. The... (full context)
...that everyone does the same, Cedric responds, “not where I’m from.” Cedric turns on his tv, and Rob is annoyed because he can’t concentrate on his letter to his parents. Frustrated,... (full context)
...is talking, Cedric suddenly interrupts to announce that Rob is Wally Cleaver from the old television show Leave it to Beaver. He realizes that this is a set of references that... (full context)
...another girl volunteers that she thinks everyone should wear flip-flops to shower. Cedric continues his television references, calling one student Casey Kasem. When the question of roommates comes around, Cedric and... (full context)
Chapter 10: A Bursting Heart
...Rob and Cedric continues, as they each attempt to stand their ground regarding music and television use in their rooms. Cedric comes in and turns on his television to watch one... (full context)