Big Black Good Man Term Paper

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Richard Wright was one of the most controversial writers of his time. He wrote about life as an African-American Man. In many cases he sought to teach white America a lesson about blacks through his novels and short stories. Wrights most popular work was the novel Native Son, however he also wrote several short stories. Among these was the story Big Black Good Man published in 1958. The purpose of this discussion is to examine the themes that are used throughout the story. The discussion will examine the location, time of year and how the story reflected the racial and ethnic composition of the main characters.

Throughout the story Wright uses humor to set the tone and to develop the characters. One of the main characters in the story is Olaf Jenson, a white Danish night clerk of a boarding house. The other main character is Jim, a black Sailor from the United States. The story takes place during the summer and the location of the story is Copenhagen. All of the scenes in the story take place at night as the sailor and the clerk interact.

Olaf immediately has a fear of Jim because he is a very large man; his skin is also very dark.

The clerk even attempts to discourage Jim from staying at the boarding house. Jim ends up spending six days at the hotel. The author of The Racial Problem in the Works of Richard Wright and James Baldwin explains the attitude of Olaf towards Jim explaining,.
"..the American sailor's size and his color arouse anger and hate in him because he feels diminished. His attitude is probably due to the ten years spent in New York, where he had ample time to adopt the prejudices of whites towards blacks. Olaf Jensen feels that his race is threatened by Jim." (Gounard et al.)

The story attempts to tackle the controversial topic of interracial relationships. This topic arises in the story when Jim, the black man, persuades Olaf to get him a white prostitute.

Eventually Jim and the prostitute develop a genuine relationship despite the obvious difference in their ethnic backgrounds. The development of this relationship is vitally important to Jim because it allows him to have a meaningful and sincere relationship with a white person.

Ultimately, Olaf becomes paranoid with the idea that the black man is going to harm him. This paranoia arises when Jim makes a violent gesture as he pays his bill on the last day of his stay at the hotel. At this time Olaf begins to project society's stereotypes of African-Americans on to the black man. Olaf can not see the black man for who he really is and chooses to believe that the black man is not a human being.

In The Critical Response to Richard….....

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