Chester Himes Essay

Submitted By gygiboss987
Words: 941
Pages: 4

If He Hollers Let Him Go, written by Chester Himes, is a novel that takes place in Los Angeles, during the 1940’s. The main character, Bob Jones, lives in constant panic every single day of his life just because he’s a black man. When Jones first came to California race was not an issue for him. He didn’t really think of it because he was just thinking of himself and of the things that he had to get done. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor is when tensions began to arise. This did not only affect Japanese-Americans but it also impacted all minority groups. Race became the main focus for every American. Since Jones is black, his position, as a leader man supervisor, in the Atlas shipyard is always under the view of a microscope. The white workers do no respect his authority and his supervisors are just waiting for one mistake to take him out of the position. One way that we see that he is not respected is when, Johnny Stoddart, a white co-worker, calls Jones a “nigger.” After this incident Jones resolves to thoughts of murdering him cold bloodily. Even though he never takes action on these impulses toward white men, he does act on his anger toward Madge Perkins, a white woman who refuses to work with him by exclaiming, “I ain’t gonna work with no nigger.” His replies to her are insulting by saying, “Screw you, then, you cracker bitch.” This not only causes Jones to lose his position as leader man but also puts himself in danger of being fired.

Despite the fact that Jones endures many hardships he is able to sustain a good relationship with his upper class girlfriend Alice. Alice is not only his companion but she is a person who is there for him physically as well as emotionally. Although Alice is a good person to Jones, she has problems dealing with the fact that she is black. Alice is not used to being treated different because of her color, the night in which Jones treats her to a romantic dinner Alice undergoes internal as well as external conflict. Alice and Jones are faced with the refusal of service because of the color of their skin and later on during the course of the evening an encounter with the police. This encounter made Alice realize the fact that she is no different than any other black person. This is when she comes to the realization that just because she is around white people all the time and feels like she is “part” of them, she is still going to be treated just like every other black person.

At the end of the novel just as Jones is putting his life together by considering settling down and marrying Alice a turn of events takes place. Jones’ crew wants him to check out a job that they are going to be doing so that he can give them insight on it (since he isn’t their leader man anymore). Jones accidentally walks into a room where Madge is asleep because he thinks that that is where the job is going to be done. At first he doesn’t know that she is in there but soon realizes it. Madge tells him to stay with her and she locks the door. She tells him not to be scared and she just wants to talk to him. What Madge wants is to have sex with Jones but since this is the second time that he