© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
 

Quotes

Quote #4

"But I can’t milk a cow, ma’am," I said.

"Where are you from?" she asked incredulously.

"Here in Jackson," I said.

"You mean to stand there, nigger, and tell me that you live in Jackson and don’t know how to milk a cow?" she demanded in surprise. (1.6.45)

Yes, lady, Richard is a black person who can’t milk a cow. He also can’t teach you jazz. Also, no, he doesn’t know that one black person you knew in high school.

Quote #5

"Why don’t you laugh and talk like the other niggers?" he asked.

"Well, sir, there’s nothing much to say or smile about," I said, smiling.

His face was hard, baffled; I knew that I had not convinced him. He whirled from me and went to the front of the store; he came back a moment later, his face red. He tossed a few green bills at me.

"I don’t like your looks, nigger. Now, get!" he snapped. (1.9.51)

We guess it’s easier to believe a stereotype if you make sure that everyone around you plays into it. It’s harder to believe that black people are happy being oppressed if that one guy is always moping around. It’s also easier to believe a stereotype than to, you know, try to improve yourself.

Quote #6

Had a black boy announced that he aspired to be a writer, he would have been unhesitatingly called crazy by his pals. Or had a black boy spoken of yearning to get a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, his friends--in the boy’s own interest--would have reported his odd ambition to the white boss. (1.10.23)

Ah, good old peer pressure. When are people going to peer pressure each other into good stuff, like eating vegetables?

Advertisement
Advertisement
back to top