Free Study Guide for Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin BookNotes|
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As Griffin looks at himself in the mirror, he experiences a sense of panic. The man staring back is a huge bald black man. At this point, the author experiences an identity crisis. This is because; he is unable to find any semblance of the reflection with his true self. His true self seems to be hidden in the "flesh of another." He cannot identify with the black man, who he sees in the mirror. He now realizes the enormity of this major step - his transformation into a Negro. As Griffin gets ready to face the world as a black man, his fear and loneliness increases. This is because he realizes that the time, when he is actually going to face white racism, has come. Griffin knows that if his family were to see him now, all that they would see, is a large black Negro. He is appalled and devastated with what the future holds for him. But in spite of these emotions, his determination is supreme and he decides not to turn back, come what may.
The author faces white racism for the first time after his transformation. He boards a trolley but only after allowing a white man to enter first and he can take a seat only at the back amongst the other blacks, both of which are the laws of the land. There is another glimpse of racism when the author enters a drugstore to buy some cigarettes. Although everything is the same as when he was white, this time he cannot go to the soda fountain and order limeade or ask for a glass of water. As a Negro, he is forbidden to do so.
The third description of racism is of the very dim and dreary living conditions of the blacks. When the author checks into the Sunset Hotel, he is given a desolate, windowless cubicle, scarcely larger than the double bed. Even the bathroom is antique and rust-stained and broken down. All this arouses a deep gloom, a desperate sadness, and a sense of suffocating, which degrades the authorís spirits -- like the very name of the hotel, Sunset.
But amidst all this ruin and decay, the author also wants to show the reader the strength and solidarity of the blacks. He warmly describes his first long contact with other Negroes who treat him with great kindness, courtesy and respect, so that he feels reassured that a human being can show feelings other than hostility or hate.
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. 09 May 2017