Chester Himes If He Hollers Let Him Go

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In the novel, If He Hollers Let Him Go, Chester Himes depicts the life of an African American man living in Los Angeles who survives with the racially discriminatory stereotypes of society. The novel highlights the issues of prejudice amidst the 1940’s and how it affected the everyday lives of minority groups, especially African Americans. Himes takes into consideration the effects class and gender have on certain characters, such as Bob Jones and his light-skin girlfriend, Alice, in addition to the way they think and react towards the injustice of society. Both Bob and Alice, coming from a mutual race, agree that there is an existing issue of racial discrimination. However, Bob, coming from a lower middle class background and identifies strongly…show more content…
Bob knows that he will never achieve the same equality a white man is granted, but the importance of his leaderman position in the shipyard is the sole reason for why Bob felt he had some type of control over his life against the evils of public racism. His job grants him certain amenities like being able to own his own car. The car is a symbol for Bob’s manhood and grants him a feeling of power. It is the only thing that is uniquely regarded to him that makes him feel more protected amongst the other black people in his community. Therefore, the threat of losing all of these benefits makes him fear that he will be seen as inferior and weak in the eyes of the white man. His race inevitably subjects him to a lower status in the eyes of society along with his lower-middle class social status, so his job keeps Bob feeling like he is above that stereotypical norm. Bob’s fearful perspective to the problem is later shown when he is speaking with one of Alice’s friends, Tom Leighton. “’Take me for instance.’ I went on. ‘I’ve got a job as a leaderman at a shipyard. I’m supposed to have a certain amount of authority over the ordinary workers. But I’m scared to ask a white woman to do a job.

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