What does Haley mean when she says that one of the rules between her and her uncle was “no dodging”?

Updated 21 March, 2023
In "Harbor Me," Haley mentions one of the rules between her and her uncle is "no dodging." This means that they have an agreement to discuss difficult topics without avoiding them. The rule requires both parties to face each other and engage in an open and honest conversation. The rule of "no dodging" allows them to communicate better and resolve issues without leaving things unsaid. This is particularly important for Haley, who has trouble opening up about her feelings, and her uncle, who wants to create a safe space for her to share her thoughts.
Detailed answer:

In "Harbor Me," Haley's reference to "no dodging" suggests a sense of honesty and vulnerability in her relationship with her uncle. The author of the book, Jacqueline Woodson, uses the term to signify a promise that she and her uncle made to each other, which was to be truthful about their thoughts and feelings. As Haley explains to her classmates, "it meant we had to tell each other the truth about everything. No matter what. Even if it hurts."

This notion of "no dodging" highlights the importance of authenticity and openness in relationships, particularly in Haley's life. Her family has been affected by the imprisonment of her uncle, and this rule signifies a way to maintain their bond despite the challenges they face. Haley's willingness to be vulnerable in sharing this personal detail with her classmates is a testament to her growth and trust in the group.

Furthermore, the idea of "no dodging" can be seen as a metaphor for the book's larger themes of facing difficult issues and embracing vulnerability. Through the discussions among the classmates in their Friday afternoon meetings, they are encouraged to confront their personal challenges and the broader issues affecting their community. This openness and honesty allow for a deeper understanding and connection between the characters.

Overall, "no dodging" is a powerful symbol of the importance of honesty and vulnerability in relationships, particularly in difficult circumstances. The idea of facing challenges head-on and being truthful about one's emotions can be difficult, but it ultimately leads to stronger and more meaningful connections.

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