Champion of the World

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The separation of race is nothing new in American culture. Even though slavery was abolished in the late 1800's signs of class separation and racism are still apparent in this story. In the paragraphs sixteen and seventeen of "Champion of the World" a story lifted from Maya Angelou's popular novel, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", there are many references to racist offences committed by whites to blacks. She uses a champion boxing match as a metaphor for an opportunity for blacks to rise above the oppression visited upon her race though the efforts of Joe Louis, "The Brown Bomber". He does not just represent himself but the whole black community as a whole. When it appears that Louis is about to lose to the challenger, Primo Carnera, Angelou fears that whatever progress has been made in overcoming the white man's prejudice concerning black's "inferiority" will be lost. She feels that if he falls once more she will be less of a person shown when she says "only a little higher than apes". Also Angelou produces a long list of injustices including lynching, rapes, whippings and humiliation and compares them to Louis's possible defeat. As the fight continued and her hopes rose once again and when Louis knocked the contender out it was a step back up for the blacks. Unlike other authors who used hyperbole for humor, Angelou used overstatement to address very real situations and to emphasize the detrimental effects of racism.

As for the obliqueness of paragraph twenty-eight, the inference that is made is that the white man will be seeking revenge. The whites view this as a step up or challenging them. It would not be uncommon for a black or his family to be attacked or even killed in retaliation. These generalizations about Caucasians reveal a form of reverse-racism. Certainly, not all white people were against Joe Louis, he was in fact a very popular champion. Yet, when people have been oppressed, whether it is a race or gender, the backlash to that...
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