American Black Literature Study of the Short Story " the Witness"

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The short story "the witness' deals with the sheer feral malevolence of a gang of bright young boys who use their gift of manipulation for wicked effect. Their low disposition in life, "all we got is the crumbs, the leftovers, whatever the fat cats don't want and cannot use" (Petry 1892) is no excuse for the assault of Woodruff and the rape of Nellie. Rape is an unthinkable act of cruelty and injustice as it forever leaves the mark on those whom are touched by it. It still boggles the mind how Woodruff could think of his own selfish racial status before helping the young woman. Due to the fact that Woodruff thinks ".. conditioned all his life by the knowledge ‘white women taboo for you' " (Petry 1902) he turned out to be the perfect victim , and the boys immediately recognized that any accusation would be reversed, as even delinquents like the seven would be believed over the word of a black man . To me, it was just amazing how he just STOOD THERE while they tore at his clothes, stole his wallet, and then stole his car. He was a man and they were just scrawny kids who "wore pants that fit as tightly as the leotards of a ballet dancer" (Petry 1894). Now, I can imagine that even a 60 year old man would have the strength to whip the snot out of a few "ballet dancer" punks. It just sickens me to see they committed the perfect crime, and even poor Nellie, at the end of the story, is seen with the gang, black eye proudly bruising up her face. The greatest evil of all is when good men do nothing in the presence of evil, and in this stories case, I would say that Woodruff is just as guilty as those who raped her simply by the fact that he let them win without even a struggle. He even knew of his own cowardice and tried to rationalize his way into believing he was doing the right thing, fleeing faster and faster in his car at 100 miles an hour away from his responsibility to the woman and as well to the town, whom believed the little hooligans were just pranksters and...
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