3- The briefcase in the novel is multileveled because not only is it a symbol in itself, the objects it holds are also symbols in their own right. When the protagonist is given the briefcase after the Battle Royal, they tell him that one day it will contain important documents of his people. This, in many ways, comes to fruition. The protagonist collects the following:
High School Diploma: This is symbolic of his academic achievement and his continuation on to college.
Tod Clifton's Sambo Doll: This is reflective of the long history of African Americans in black face and performing as happy and smiling figures. The Sambo figure also represents a long history and tradition of masking. This smile functions as a veil hiding the true feelings of the person behind the mask. .
Mary's Broken Bank: This is also an extension of the Sambo figure. It is a smiling black man who stuffs money into his mouth when a coin is dropped in the bank. While the image is a part of American history, images like these serve to humiliate African Americans by presenting them as less intelligent, greedy, and emotionless.
Brother Tarp's Leg Chain: This chain symbolizes the numerous years of persecution that many African Americans faced after slavery. Many have called the chain gang a form of continued slavery after Emancipation and Brother Tarp's struggle recalls that.
The anonymous letter and his Brotherhood name: These two documents, both written by Jack, represent the change of identity for the protagonist and the Brotherhood's ultimate betrayal of him.
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