Big Black, Good Man

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Bulger Limchao
Comp2
26 FEB 13

In the story “Big Black, Good Man,” Olaf is thought to be either racist or not. In my interpretation I do believe Olaf is a racist. The reasons why I do believe he is a racist is because for one, Olaf reminds me of the person who says he is not a racist but in the same breath forbids his daughter to date a person of a different race. This is shown when Olaf fears for Lena, the hotels call girl when she visits Jim. She returned each night at Jim's request, indicating she had no fear of him or the money was good. But in the beginning of the story, Considering Olaf has fought and eaten with all types of men, it would seem that Olaf would have no problem with Jim. However, Olaf wants to deny Jim a room simply because of size and color showing that Olaf is racist. Olaf feels “frightened and insulted” by Jim simply because he does not fit into a category that Olaf sees as acceptable. Another reason for my assumption of Olaf being a racist because Jim did not fit Olaf's preconceived idea of what of how a black man should be or look. In his eyes Jim was "too big, too black, too loud, and probably too violent. . ." This comment alludes to Olaf being prejudiced because he makes assumptions about Jim before he gets to know him. Throughout the story Olaf remained as he was by describing Jim as a thing using the word “Black” in each term used to call and describe Jim’s instead of using his name. His descriptions and references of him were dehumanizing. He never referred to him by his name or used it. An aspect of racism is the unspoken subtleties, in which Olaf shows throughout the story with the thoughts and hate for Jim. The problem is we unknowing participate in it and we are blinded to our own unconscious fear and misunderstandings.
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