Characters in "Way in the Middle of the Air"
Samuel Teece may be racist, but he does have some good qualities. For example…
Scratch that. He has no redeeming qualities. He's racist, he's mean to his wife (Clara Teece), he threatens to shoot his friends, and he has a history of being violent, joining in on nighttime attacks on black people. Teece is something of a ridiculous villain. You can imagine a lot of people who read this in the 1940s patting themselves on the back because at least they're not that racist.
But Teece's extreme racism serves a function in the story. When one of the other white men wonders why all the black people are leaving the South, even though they're getting more rights every day (114), the story offers the answer clear: racism is still a problem.
It's kind of ironic given his name, but Silly knows the truth about things. He knows that his white boss goes out to terrorize and kill people like himself every night. What must that be like, working for a guy who makes himself feel important by killing your friends and neighbors? No wonder Silly wants to leave for Mars. The real mystery is why it took him so long.