Separate Pasts Analysis

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Melton McLaurin, in his book, “Separate Pasts,” recalls memories of growing up in his hometown of Wade, North Carolina. During this time, McLaurin works in his grandfather’s store in the segregated South. McLaurin writes of his interactions with the black community and observes the segregated lifestyle of black and whites. In his book “Separate Pasts,” McLaurin describes the black citizens of Wade that have influenced and changed his views of segregation and racism.

The first person to influence McLaurin’s racial views was a black playmate by the name of Bobo. During this time period it was perfectly acceptable for white children to play with black children. In “Separate Pasts” McLaurin describes an event in which he had licked a needle that his black playmate Bobo had already previously licked. Upon this realization McLaurin has sudden conflicting and negative racial views against Bobo. He feels violated that the black child’s salvia may have contaminated him yet; at the same time he does not want his friend Bobo to feel hurt towards his negative thoughts. This memory shows that although McLaurin outwardly is friendly towards his black peers, he still views them inferiorly.

Another figure who shapes McLaurin’s view of the black community is Betty Jo. In this section of “Separate Pasts” McLaurin explores sexual fantasies and relationships between the white and black community. He had strong sexual fantasies about the black adolescents and young women that come into the store. However society prevents him from acting upon these desires. Betty Jo, a young black girl who frequently visits the store, changes the way McLaurin feels about black girls. She was the first girl that McLaurin desired emotionally as well as physically. This desire for her showed McLaurin that Betty Jo was just like the white girls that he had previously dated. This section of McLaurin’s book shows the complexities of interracial sexual relationships and fantasies.

Another memory that...
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