Free Study Guide for Black Like Me by John Howard Griffin BookNotes|
Downloadable / Printable Version
In spite of facing such hardships, the author is very mature and understanding. This is especially revealed when he meets all kinds of depraved and degenerate whites who only want to discuss sex and sexual matters with him, even against his will. One even asks him to expose himself in the nude because he has never seen a Negro, naked. Even then he does not lose his cool or hit back, but forgives and forgets their aberrations. On the other hand, he even tries to awaken their conscience and convince them about the nobility of the Negro.
During this period as a Negro, he is also very touched by simple and common Negroes, who show him great kindness and courtesy, amidst all the racist cruelty and atrocities. Some of these blacks, share with him their meager food and lodging, even when Griffin is a total stranger and they are in poverty and squalor themselves. He is even more impressed with the character of the rich and famous Negroes who havenít lost their common touch or forgotten their less fortunate brethren.
His noble spirit would have got crushed and broken if it were not for the few sensitive and sensible whites he meets during his experiment. These whites with a conscience, who are "color blind," help to restore his faith in humanity and democracy, in spite of the bitter violence, hate and antagonism of other whites to him. Then he is also amazed by famous white media men like East, Garroway and Wallace who are deeply committed to the Negro cause and are also ready to pay the price for it.
But his loss of innocence and ignorance occurs when in his own hometown, some white racists hang his effigy on the main street. This racist act comes as a great shock. But he is even more stung when they burn a cross at the Negro school near his home, to terrorize the Negroes. He is upset that innocent Negro children have to pay the price for his actions. But what he finds most painfully scalding is when the local people act blind, deaf and dumb to all the brute violence of the racists.
Finally he leaves the country and migrates to Mexico, only for his familyís sake. But he does not flee as a pessimist but leaves hoping against hope that the masses of Negroes will not turn towards black racism in retaliation to avenge what they have suffered for centuries under white racism. He optimistically hopes that there will not be a still greater holocaust, which, if it happens, will destroy both innocent blacks and whites.
The minor characters are many, both black and white, friend and foe, who the author encounters before his transformation from white to Negro, during his six weeks as a Negro and even after he returns as a white man to his hometown once again.
One minor character is the Negro shoeshine man, Sterling Williams. He is the authorís first contact within the Negro community and he takes him under his wing and teaches him how to shine shoes. There is a most moving moment when he discovers the golden hair on the authorís hands and directs him to a Negro toilet to shave his hands so that his white identity will not be revealed. Thus, saving the author from getting into a lot of trouble.
Another minor character is the white journalist East, who the author meets one lonely night in Mississippi. East publishes a small newspaper called, "The Petal Paper," for which he is persecuted for seeking justice for the Negroes. East welcomes Griffin home, even at great risk to his life and livelihood. He gives the author, to read, the manuscript of his remarkable autobiography called, "The Magnolia Jungle," which juxtaposes the humanity of his columns against a background of stark horror. It is a manuscript that the author cannot stop reading through the night.
All Content Copyright©TheBestNotes. All Rights Reserved.
No further distribution without written consent.
24095 Users Online | This page has been viewed 3001 times
This page was last updated on 5/9/2017 9:50:06 AM
Cite this page:
TheBestNotes.com Staff. "TheBestNotes on Black Like Me".
. 09 May 2017