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Friendships with Restrictions

After the emancipation of slavery in the South, the relationships between blacks and whites became complex. Before the emancipation of slavery it was clear to all that the whites were the superior beings. After the emancipation of slavery the relationships between blacks and whites stayed similar except in the younger generations. Now with blacks having more rights whites were puzzled on how they should be treated. Children had the most problems figuring out how to treat the blacks. During the youth of Harry Crews, Jimmy Carter, and Jim Glass they all encounter different situations were they come to question their parent’s ideas on the treatment of blacks.

During Harry Crews youth, he is told that he is a superior to blacks but deep down he realizes they are the same as him. Harry Crews was a young white boy who lived with his mom, brother, and father on a tobacco tenant farm in the South. Harry Crews was not old enough to work on the farm so he spent his days playing in the shade under the oak tree watching his mom, his brother, and Willalee Bookatee pick the worms off the plants. Willalee was the son of the black family who helped work the farm. Willalee however knew his place in the relationship, "Willalee almost never argued with what I decided to do, up to and including giving away the worms he had spent all morning collecting." (396) The story suggested that Harry, being a young boy, could not comprehend why Willalee was not allowed to eat at his house while he could go over to his freely. Harry saw Willalee as an equal but "there was another part of me in which it had to matter because it mattered to the world I live!

d in. It mattered to my blood."(401) The day Harry learned Willalee was a nigger was a vivid memory in his life. Until his aunt told him to call black people nigger Jones instead of Mr. Jones he had never noticed a difference and thought that they were just the same. However, Harry could still not see a difference between him and Willalee even though he knew one existed, "I don’t know what difference it ever made that I found out the Willalee was a nigger. But no doubt it made a difference. Willalee was our friend... But sometimes we used him like a toy." (402) Harry deep down knew they were the same people inside yet in the world he lived in he was still the superior being which still confused him. Harry believed that he " lived in a discoverable world, but that most of what we discover is an unfathomable mystery that we can name- even defend against- but never understand." (406)

In the youth years of Jimmy Carter’s life, his parents shaped Jimmy’s ideas of black people but still he was able to come to his own conclusions and accept them. Jimmy Carter’s youth consisted of living on a large farm in Georgia. Jimmy Cater was rich compared to the rest of the South. He had luxuries in his house like a telephone that most others did not have. On the farm he lived on he wondered why that a half century after the "War Between the States" (17) his families "could not forget that we had been conquered while most of our neighbors were black people whose grandparents had been liberated in the same conflict. Our two races, although inseparable in our daily lives, were kept apart by social custom, misinterpretation of Holy Scriptures, and the unchallenged law of the law." He had been taught the concept of separate but equal but the vast majority of whites in the South had ignored it. Jimmy however, was able to rise above these stereotypes and realize that black people are the same as him and can be respected. Bishop Johnson was a highly respected black man in the South. "Even before I was an adult and able to understand the difficulty of overcoming racial barriers, I looked on Bishop Johnson as an extraordinary example of success in life."(24) The Bishop was black and realized his place in society and was aware of the racial customs of the day. He understood that he was not allowed to use the front door but commanded the respect that he would not walk in the back door yet just honk his horn and Jimmy’s father would go outside to talk with him. Living in a complex South, Jimmy was able to combine his own ideas along with his parents to be able to treat blacks with respect.

In the case of Jim Glass, Jim’s interaction with black people was negative at first. Jim lived on a farm in North Carolina were he lived with his three uncles and his mother. They were a few black field hands who helped tend the farm. On the morning of his birthday Jim was able to go into the field and help hoe. "Jim grabbed the newest hoe for himself... ‘Give that one to Abraham, Doc,’ he said. Abraham had white hair. He could remember the day a soldier told him he was free. He was the gather or grandfather of most of the people who lived on the hill. Jim did not want to give him his hoe." (13) Right after his uncle told Jim to give away the nice hoe and take the broken one Abraham said he did not mind using the broken one and Jim should keep the new one. His uncles, however, had a different idea and made sure Abraham got the hoe. Jim was annoyed that he had to use the broken hoe and that a black person got the new hoe over him. By the end of the novel Jim finds himself cornered in an ally and realizes when Abraham comes to save him he really has nothing against him. Jim in the end learns the importance of being respectful to everyone and treating everyone equal because one never knows when he will need a favor from them.

In all three reading the young men of the South are more open minded about the black race then their parents. Using their ideas the children offer more of an acceptance towards the black race but still listen to their parents. They do not understand why blacks are different but they have been taught there whole lives that there are better then them. The views of there parents influence them on what they think they are supposed to act like, but deep down the question their parents values which helps them formulated there own ideas on the treatment of black.

Source: Essay UK -

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