Study Guide

New Orleans Native in Travels with Charley

By John Steinbeck

New Orleans Native

When he flees New Orleans after enduring the Cheerleaders, Steinbeck finally ends up having a civil and non-racial-epithet-laced conversation with a native N'awlins dude. They seem to share the same attitudes about the Cheerleaders.

Unfortunately, Steinbeck's new acquaintance doesn't seem optimistic about the South's ability to crawl out of this unrest peacefully. He draws a (very offensive) comparison between accepting the humanity and rights of African Americans with Charley learning how to talk, walk, and attend dinners. It doesn't seem to be his view that there's any real comparison there, but he uses it as an example of "how hard it is to change a feeling about things. And will you believe that it will be just as hard for N****es to change their feeling about us as it is for us to change about them? This isn't new. It's been going on a long time" (4.4.32). So, it's not exactly the sunny outlook or insight that Steinbeck might have been hoping for.