The increasing matter of racism and racial discrimination in the society had greatly affected on how the people live in the community and on how they deal with others. The issue on racism and racial discrimination is a rampant problem in the civilization and it has caused impact in the society for quite some time. Racism had affected the people’s general well-being especially when they are denied with the equal access to employment, education, services and other benefits in the community. Issues on racism and racial discrimination moreover is illustrated and tackled in several literary works such as novels, short stories and even in films. This paper examines three different literary works that focused on racism and how they have treated the issue. The stories examined in this paper are The Help (novel), Hotel Rwanda (film) and The Judgment Day (short story). The thematic relationship of these three works are examined and discussed.
“Race is not a neutral concept” is the theme of the story The Help as it emphasized the impact of the segregated society in opposition to the increasing movements of the Civil Rights of the US in the 1960s. The concept of race in the story had become the primary determinant and access to attaining education, employment, and more advantageous economic opportunity (Stockett 32). The Help is a book which mainly tackled the issue of racial prejudice, bigotry and irrational hate that is directed towards the black people. Almost all the white characters in the story except Skeeter are racists. They had treated the black house maids badly because they considered them unintelligent and mediocre (Stockett 21). In the entire story, the whites have referred to the maids and the black people with terms that are usually applicable to animals which indicate that the blacks are equated to animals instead of being treated as human beings. The whites had built social barriers between themselves and the blacks who general felt apprehension and fear (Stockett 56). The novel further talked about slavery and this was illustrated on how the maids were treated and represented their vocation as a racial lineage. Moreover, the maids do not expect to be treated equally because it is inculcated in their minds that they should live life differently from their employees. The book publicly revealed the point of view of the black people working as helpers and maids among white families, in the story it was with the Jackson’s. The story had maltreated the women and placed them in great danger. Nevertheless, this book had presented awareness to the public on how women and the blacks were treated, what are the experiences they had been going through from the society and it provided both good and bad impact on the story.
Saving the lives of other people definitely takes greater courage from a person and it does not matter what his skin color is. This idea is clearly illustrated in the movie Hotel Rwanda. The movie is a historical drama film which was based on the Rwandan Genocide which had happened in 1994. The movie tackled several societal issues such as genocide, political corruption, repercussions of violence and racial discrimination as well. The story was not about hotel management but it talks on the bravery, heroism and survival of the blacks during the genocide and how a certain Rusesabagina took courage in saving his family and other Rwandan people. Paul Rusesabagina was portrayed by Don Cheadle who was a hotel manager and who had saved more than one thousand Tutsis and Hutus from being murdered (Berardinelli 4). He did this heroic deed by offering shelter to the black people in the Belgian hotel he had managed. The movie is centered on two themes: first, everything has a price and on the concept of self-reliance and external help (Berardinelli 12). The first theme was illustrated when Rusesabagina paid the army officer through bribery and negotiated for the price for the freedom and life of his family and neighbors. All throughout the movie, Paul had consistently bribed the army officials in order to have protection against the armed militia. The second theme on self-reliance and external help was illustrated on the repetitive refusal of the “West” in extending help and to intervene in the ongoing genocide in Rwanda. The refusal of the Westerners in sending help is indeed a clear indication of racial discrimination. Even the United Nations peacekeeping force denied help by ordering not to use their weapons (Berardinelli 8). Racism was even emphasized when the UN peacekeepers came to Rwanda only to evacuate their men and the foreign white citizens instead of the Rwandan survivors. There was even scene in the movie that presented those Rwandan who have foreign connections were given visas and granted to leave the country due to the influence of their white friends.
The Judgement Day of Flannery O’Connor has the theme of relationship, paralysis, deliverance and self-importance. This is a story that explored about the various challenges in the relational system of the culture. This story is part of her previous literary work which was published in 1946. Just like the first story, the Judgment Day had a Georgian character being the protagonist who was transferred to New York. Being new to the life in the city, the protagonist encountered difficulty in adapting to the life in the city with new sets of people and with his new environment. He found the life in New York intolerable thus he spend most of his time reminiscing about his life back in his original place and with his black companions (O’Connor 17). Those thoughts definitely made him sick and eager to go back home. The action on the story focused on the last hours on the life of Tanner with the flashbacks of the memorable events that he had in his life which gave more information about the old man and about the conflict in the story. The story started with old Tanner who was suffering from stroke as a result from his bitter and unpleasant encounter with a black person who was ill-tempered and ill- mannered (O’Connor 22). With his eagerness and desire of going back to his home land, he had been planning of escaping from the city despite of his condition especially because he had sensed that his daughter and son-in-law had disregarded their promise of bringing him back to Corinth, Georgia where he wanted to be buried. One day she was waiting for her daughter to left home because to wanted to carry out his plan of escaping, on his way out he succeeded with several steps however he had encountered stroke and got his legs paralyzed which caused to tumble down from the stairs (O’Connor 19). He was found by the same black man who caused his initial stroke and reached for him asking for help however instead of helping him he stuffed the head and legs of Tanner in the banister and left him there where the latter was found dead. This act is an illustration of discrimination not only by whites with the black people but even by black person to an immigrant.
The three stories conveyed similar social issue of racism however it was presented in different ways. Nevertheless, the discrimination had caused negative impact not only on the person being discriminated but in the society in general. The stories further showed that with the rampant episodes of discrimination the minority group of people especially those with skin color have suffered several unfavorable experiences which had caused negative impact on their personality and o their rights as a human being.