If He Hollers Let Him Go Essay examples

2755 Words Dec 3rd, 2014 12 Pages
Chester Himes’s If He Hollers Let Him Go provides a graphic window into the world of racism where his protagonist, Bob Jones, outlines personal dreams that serve as a framework to recreate the reality of the overwhelming prejudice prevalent in the 1940s. The novel unfolds over a course of four to five days, where each day begins with a nightmare encountering various forms of racism. Throughout each dream, Jones elicits scenes of violence, with each one escalating in visual description and immoral degree, along with his personal reflections after he wakes up. Himes’s structuring of the novel suggests a realistic representation of racism as seen through Jones’s unconscious state, where the dream sequences represent racism so pervasive that …show more content…
Alice, for instance, would rather identify with white culture rather than instantly be demeaned as black. Jones berates her for this since he cannot rise above his skin color himself; he is envious, and uses this hatred to spite them by underscoring the fact that they are “yellow” and hence at the top of the racial totem pole. After having found Alice in the dream, she looked “like a little rag doll…her eyes were closed and her body had shrunk until it was no more than a foot long and she was dead” (101). Jones employs a simile comparing Alice to a mere toy, which carries deep implications about the treatment of blacks in Jones’s world. The little rag doll is a microcosm of Jones’ real world; it symbolizes how blacks are considered as objects degraded to a child’s mere plaything – something lacking intellect and a human soul – as opposed to people who possess thought and emotion. “There were millions of white women leaning there, looking at [Jones], giving [him] the most sympathetic smiles [he] ever saw” (101). This highlights how blacks are not the only people capable of becoming accomodationists, known as those who felt that they had to acclimate themselves to the reality of racism without ever challenging it. Himes infuses an element of naturalism into Jones’s dream state by illustrating how people

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