Sag Harbor By Colson Whitehead Essay

1375 Words Nov 12th, 2015 6 Pages
While many men face criticism for their decisions and lifestyles, those who advance from lower societal positions often encounter harsh judgment by those who remain in the original social class. Additionally, when people achieve a new social status, the new social class hesitates to accept the outsiders. Colson Whitehead addresses the struggle with negotiations many black men encounter as they try to navigate a balance between their past, commonly a life of poverty and crime, with their future, a comfortable life with money and success. In Whitehead’s novel Sag Harbor, Reggie’s father portrays the conflict many successful black men bear. Coming from a working class family, the father must learn how to transition into the role of an Upper Middle Class podiatrist. Reggie’s father struggles with achieving total acceptance of his new role in society and must exert his emotional hesitations. In an attempt to cope with his life’s decisions, he drinks heavily and often berates members of his family. By addressing the struggle of staying authentic while still feeling obligated to conform, Whitehead acknowledges the negotiations and the balance required for acceptance. Society’s expectations of black males regarding economic success troubles Benji’s father’s masculinity regarding behavioral norms demonstrating the way authenticity enforces conformity.
To begin, the notions of masculinity and conformity contribute to mobility. The novel states, “Folks of this type could pick…

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