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Black Boy Chapter 12. Review. Q uestions Friday . Chapter 12 takes place in Memphis. Remember that Richard is trying to save money to move farther north to Illinois. He finds a job at another optical company. Important characters: Shorty, the elevator operator

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Black Boy Chapter 12


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q uestions friday
Questions Friday
  • Chapter 12 takes place in Memphis. Remember that Richard is trying to save money to move farther north to Illinois.
  • He finds a job at another optical company.
  • Important characters:
  • Shorty, the elevator operator
  • An unnamed white “Yankee” or northerner
  • Mr. Olin
  • Harrison
surviving in the south wearing a mask
Surviving in the south: wearing a “mask”

“Each of us hated and feared the whites, yet had a white man put in a sudden appearance we would have assumed silent, obedient smiles” (229)

connection
Connection:
  • Poet Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906) wrote about this concept in “We Wear the Mask”
the yankee
The Yankee
  • Like Mr. Crane from earlier chapters, his attempt to help scares Richard
  • He is also primarily unable to help – remember that the desire of one person to do good and to combat racism in the south is not sufficient. Groups of people joining together are necessary to fight injustice.
  • Review pages 231-233 (until the page break)
priorities necessities come before protesting injustice
Priorities – necessities come before protesting injustice

“A man will seek to express his relation to the stars; but when a man’s consciousness has been riveted upon obtaining a loaf of bread, that loaf of bread is as important as the stars” (233).

mr olin
Mr. Olin
  • White man in the optical shop – you should connect his behavior to that of Pease and Reynolds in Mr. Crane’s shop
  • He pretends to be Richard’s friend and encourages him to fight Harrison, another black boy who works for a rival optical company
the fight
The fight
  • Richard and Harrison discover that they are each being encouraged to fight the other through lies involving dirty words, knives, etc.
  • They know the white men are lying but cannot say so
  • They ultimately fight (242-243) for the enjoyment of the white men
richard s reaction to the fight
Richard’s reaction to the fight

“I could not look at Harrison. I hated him and I hated myself” (243).

“I felt that I had done something unclean, something for which I could never properly atone” (243).

discuss
Discuss
  • Shorty sang, belittled himself, and convinced a white man to give him a quarter to kick him in the “rump” (223-229)
  • Did Richard ultimately do the same thing Shorty did?