Summary Of ' If He Hollers Let Him Go ' Essay

Summary Of ' If He Hollers Let Him Go ' Essay

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If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes touches on many ideas of race relations: the tension between African Americans and whites, interracial sex, and the social stress that was put on by World War II. Alice, having lighter skin, uses it to her advantage and passes as a white woman. She always completely dismisses her black side to the point where she is not oppressed like other, darker skinned, African Americans. Madge, on the other hand, is a white woman and knows how to use that to her advantage as she gains power over Bob. Both characters use race as a way to describe their identity. One is powerful and another is hiding behind a mask. Another way that Alice and Madge are similar, are ashamed of reaching outside of their bubble.
Alice Harrison, a California-born, black, social worker, lives with her wealthy parents, and accepts the “limitations” of her race. Alice smugly prides herself on her ability to pass as white and adopts white values and attitudes toward the black working class. “The way she looked, the appearance she made among white people, and the credit they gave her; and her position and prestige among her own people.” (8) She believes that she can’t make racism go away, that no change can happen so it is better to adjust. According to Alice, Bob should be proud of his black heritage, to praise the black leaders and it is also important to “worship the white fathers” (151). Doing all of this will help Bob feel included in the white community, gain praise from the white and says, “You been a good nigger for a long time” (151). With racism, she believes that the reason the whites are treating him in this particular way is because they wanted to show tough love, through segregation which gives a chance for him to ...


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... pure and divine because she doesn’t want to “jeopardize his future” (97), that Bob is doing trying to fight what already exists.
Alice is a wealthy, and believes that the only way to fix a problem is through adjusting someone else, because there is no solution to racism that has arisen and she does this through cover herself with the mask of white person. Madge however, feels empowered by the color of her skin, because she is white she feels like she has the upper hand and that power will always come to her. In Chester Himes novel, both characters are inferior of their beliefs of racism, however when reaching out of their comfort zone into a different race, they are ashamed of what others believe. Throughout the novel, Alice and Madge are depicted as women who seek power in different ways but also have setbacks of class and culture that they are too naïve to see.

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