Big Black Good Man

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 69
  • Published : December 13, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Small White Old Coward

In the short story “Big Black Good Man” by Richard Wright at a dock side hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark during the late 1950’s, our two protagonists meet. Olaf Jensen, a white old man just on the verge of 60, is the night porter. With a long night ahead, Olaf sits down behind his desk, as he’s loosening his shoelaces, Jim, a giant African-American man at six and a half feet tall, walks through the door to strike fear into Olaf’s life. Although Olaf is certainly surprised by Jim’s stature, Olaf is not a racist because he is afraid of Jim’s size and power, not his skin color, he grants Jim’s every request, and he has a long background of tolerance.

First, Olaf is not a racist because he is afraid of Jim’s size and power, not skin color. Olaf says that Jim has “legs like telephone poles” and “a chest bulged like a barrel” and also states that Jim has “rocklike and humped shoulders hinted of mountain ridges”. Olaf being a five foot seven inches is terrified at the size of the “black giant”. Olaf also felt rather insulted by Jim’s size, as if this man came to remind him how small and insignificant he really is. “Ungainly bigness that frightened and insulted Olaf, he felt as though this man had come here to expressly remind him how puny, how tiny, and how weak….” This upset Olaf, but most of all it frightened him to have such a massive man standing right in front of him; anyone placed in this situation would be equally as terrified or maybe even a bit more.

Second, He grants Jim’s every request. As the night porter for the hotel, Olaf gets people what they ask for. When Jim asks for a room, Olaf has plenty of opportunities to deny him the room but does not. ”Yea we got a room”, he says, not only does Jim stay there for that night but ends up staying six nights “I’ll be here for five or six days, I reckon”. If indeed Olaf was racist it is a simple matter of saying that every room is full. Olaf then gets Jim some whiskey for him to drink and...
tracking img