Reading Response I Trimester II

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Reading Response I Trimester II

Post  Admin on Mon Dec 03, 2012 10:15 am

Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston
Red Headed Baby by Langston Hughes
The Man Who Was Almost a Man by Richard Wright
Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange

In 1000 words explore the similarities in character, theme, and/or style between these three stories and this novel. Use, at least, 2 DTRs in your exploration. Due January 7, 2013

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response

Post  jbeeson on Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:00 pm

In the four stories we have read, Sweat, Red Headed Baby, The man who was almost a man, and Betsey Brown, they all are stories based on African Americans back when there were Jim Crow laws, or earlier. There are a lot of similarities and differences between these stories. There is a conflict in every story you read. In some of these stories the conflict is the same, and it is usually a conflict to do with people. The way these stories are all similar is the dialect. The author, for each character uses a different way of speech.

In Seat by Zora Neal Hurston, there are two characters who just hate each other. Their names are Sykes and Delia. They are married, but Delia knows that Sykes is cheating on her, and she is right. Sykes wants Delia out of the house so he and the lady he is cheating on Delia with can move in. He tries everything to get her out. Eventually he brings in a snake, because he knows that Delia is very scared of them. He tries to get her up to come up the stairs to see it, but then the snake attacks him and Sykes dies. Before he dies though they get in a huge argument “Gawd! How ah hates skinny wimmen!” You can obviously see how the dialect is in the argument, and all of the other stories have the same way of dialect.

In Red Headed Baby by Langston Hughes, there is not as much dialect that clearly shows how they all have the same way of speech. “You-Clar… Mister Clarence, cuse me! You Haitian you, get back to you bed.”. At this moment a red headed baby comes down stairs while a man is talking to the baby’s mom. The man finds out the baby is his, and when he sees the baby is red headed he gets really mad and starts to yell at it. In this DTR you see how the dialect is not as heavy but when you see how it is written you can tell that it matches with up with the others. For example, how he does not say “You’re a Haitian” he says “You Haitian you” because, that is how people who lived back then would talk.

In The Man Who Was Almost a Man by Richard Wright a boy wants a gun, but his mom says he can only have it if he gives it to his dad. So he buys it, but doesn’t give it to him, and the next morning when the kid goes to work, he brings the gun with him. The kid named Dave has to plow the fields his boss owns with a mule named Jenny. While jenny was plowing, Dave stopped it, and pulled out his gun and pretended to shoot things that were around. Finally he told Jenny not to run and, and he shot her. Right after he shot her, Dave started to freak out. He knew it was bad, and he tried to convince himself it was an accident, and that he did not mean to do so. His parents find out, and his boss finds out, so then finally Dave confesses that he did shoot Jenny. His boss says that he will have to work it off for shooting Jenny. Dave hid the gun so his parents would not find it, so that night he left his house and went to go get the gun, then left on a train. In this specific story, like Red Headed Baby there was not as much strong southern dialect like in the other stories we read. This story on the other hand, is still based in the same time frame.

In Betsey Brown, this story I think is the best example of how the dialect in the stories are so strong. It is a book that has a huge African American family that lives together in a house. The author of this book would write what people were thinking in their head, and for each person they think in a different style of speech. The grandma has the strongest accent, and the deepest. The way it is written the older the person is, the deeper their accent is. I think that is what it is like in real life in the south too. I think older people in the south have more of an accent than people that are my age, and I think that is what it is like up north too. People are starting to have more neutral accents. In this specific book though, Betsey, who is a little younger than me, has an accent but that is because, like in all of the other stories, it is based when Jim Crow laws were still on going.

We have read four stories in the past couple of months, Sweat, Red Headed Baby, The man who was almost a man, and Betsey Brown are all similar stories. Some of them are similar in the way that they have the same conflict, some are similar that they are short stories, and some are similar in the way how the author chose to write the story. In every story there is a conflict. Without the conflict the story is boring and dull. Some of these stories have a similar conflict. The biggest similarity between all four stories is the dialect. In every one of these stories the characters all talk with deep southern accents, even the characters that are my age talk with an accent. As time goes on in the real world, there are still kids who have accents, but most people who are my age have neutral accents. All stories have qualities that will relate them to other stories. These four in particular are similar in the style the authors write them and the dialect the characters talk with.

jbeeson
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Re: Reading Response I Trimester II

Post  cward2 on Sun Jan 06, 2013 9:07 pm

Conor Ward 1/7/13
Mr. Jester Short Stories essay

American short stories can tell many things about past events people and places. Also have a very unique writing style to them. For example Sweat by Zora Neal Horston, Red headed baby by Langston Hughes and A Man Who was Almost a Man by R.Write.
Sweat a story based around a black couple during the 1900's that have some serious relationship problems, her name is Delia and his is Sykes. First off he is a abusive and non-supportive husband. He doesn't like her job, washing white peoples clothes. In addition he openly admits he doesn't love her and that he loves someone else. Then Delia not only has him to deal with but also the way she is treated in her work. She doesn't get payed fairly and has the overall race issues everyone had then. So one day she get annoyed with Sykes and they argue he ends up leaving for the night. When he come back he puts a snake in the house to try to scare Delia out for good. When he goes back to the house to remove the snake it bites him, Delia listens to him screaming inside begging for help. Yet she does nothing to save him and as he dies she is thinking about how she could run for help or use herbs to try to save him. Instead she changes her thought to how peaceful she could be without Sykes in her life and so he dies and she will live with a guilty consonance. This I feel was written to show that African Americans didn't only have to deal with racal issues they still had daily struggles just like the rest of us. This connects us with the character on a deeper level and makes this a very meaningful piece.
This next story Red Headed Baby is about a prostitute and a guest that she has had in the past. Her name is Betsy and his is Clarance. Clarance is a white and now off duty soldier and Betsy a black prostitute. When he meets up with her again he starts drinking with her and is enjoying himself. Yet when Betsy's white, red headed baby walks into the room and is bothering him he starts calling it terrible things. Not realizing its his own child from a couple years ago. As he starts getting more and more annoyed with the child he realizes its his and eagerly pays for the alcohol and leaves fast as possible. "A red-headed baby. Moonlight-gone baby. No kind of yellow-white bow-legged goggle-eyed County Fair baseball baby. Get him the hell out of here pulling al my legs looking like me at me at myself like me red-headed as me. Christ! Christ!"(L.Hughes, Red headed baby) This story may seem very scattered with an abrupt ending but this shows so much inner turmoil and racal conflict. First this shows the un-accepting of a mixed child because he referred to it as a bastard child, bow-legged, goggle-eyed and just ugly child. And you could tell by the way Betsy was acting that she was in aw to the way he was reacting to her child and then to the fact that it was his. Whats shocking about this is he was literally afraid, afraid of having a mixed child, being in a mixed relationship all because the general public doesn't think that is is correct.
Last A Man Who Was Almost a Man is about a boy wanting to grow up faster than he should. His name is Dan and the thing he wants most is a gun because he thinks it makes him a man. After saving up as much money he can he was hoping to buy a gun but after talking to adult friend about it the man said he would sell him one for cheep. So Dave runs back to his house and asks for his payment from his mom but when she finds out its for a gun she wont give him it. Then he convinces his mother that his father needs a gun for protection ad she gives in but said it was not for him but his father. But when he buys the gun he doesn't give her the gun but instead goes to his work on the farm. Once he was secluded with just him and the mule he pulls out the gun and fires it.”Hell Ah ain afraid. The gun felt loose in his fingers; he waved it wildly for a moment. Then he shut his eyes and tightened his forefinger. Boom!"(R.Wright, AMWWAAM) When his eyes opened the gun had flung from his hands and the mule was running away making a bunch of noise. Once he calmed her down he saw a small hole in her side with blood rushing out. After trying to plug it she fell down and then died he hid the gun and then he then ran home and went to bed like nothing happened. The next day his father called him out to the farm very angrily. After trying to make excuses for how the mule died he gets in-trouble for keeping the gun and shooting the mule and has to work to pay for a new mule. When his father asked for the gun he said he threw it in the river but that night he went got the gun and ran away. This shows the stupidity of children and how kids should listen to their elders because they will get in much less trouble because they know best.
These All First show A very similar speech pattern an almost broken English language, putting emphases on letters and sounds. Not only this but both Sweat and Red Headed Baby have great meaning in the racal perspective of black and whites. Sweat show the conflict and Red Headed Baby shows the un-acceptance of certain aspects between black and whites. Although the writing styles are drastically different the way they approach the characters and plot.

cward2
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Response

Post  Jane W on Sun Jan 06, 2013 10:42 pm

Betsey Brown, Sweat, the Red-Headed Baby, and the Man Who Was Almost a Man, are each individual stories with unique plots, conflicts, and purposes. Sweat is about a man who is trying to make his wife leave his house so he can live with the woman with whom he is having an affair. The Red- Headed Baby is about a man who sees a prostitute occasionally, and finds out she has had his baby. The Man Who Was Almost a Man is about a boy who works in the fields, buys a gun, and “accidentally” shoots a mule. And finally, Betsey Brown tells the story of an African American 13-year-old girl struggling with inequality. As different as each of these stories may seem, each narrative shares one common theme that is demonstrated throughout each short story and novel. The theme of race is present in Betsey Brown, Sweat, The Red-Headed Baby, and the Man Who Was Almost a Man.

Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston originally seems like a book predominantly about domestic problems, violence, abuse, and karma. Moreover, at first glance, race seems to play no part in the book, and it was just a coincidence that they were an African-American couple. However, there is more to the story than that. For one, the dialect of the story plays an important role. Without the use of the southern and stereotypical Black American English dialect, I might have thought it was only about domestic themes, but upon closer inspection, I see that the author is trying to make the point of how their race effects their situation. For example, Delia Jones, the protagonist, is an extremely hard working washwoman. This was a very good job that paid the bills in that household, but if she wasn’t an African- American living in Florida, maybe her hardworking attitude would earn her a better job which wouldn’t involve working as hard as she works now. In addition, her situation might not have escalated to the point it did, if she could have afforded a lawyer of some sort. Even though in some stories the theme of race is somewhat difficult to detect, others are very clear.

In the novel Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shang, race is a very obvious and important theme in the book. However, unlike Sweat the dialect is used less and the plot is used more to help understand the theme. Betsey Brown is the protagonist in this book, and the story is about her and her family living in a middle class neighborhood in St. Louis Missouri in 1959. Betsey is the oldest of four siblings and the theme of race chimes when it is found out that Betsey is one of the smartest children in her class, yet she cannot learn and be education as well as white girls her age even though she was just as smart, if not smarter.

The Red-Headed Baby by Langston Hughes is a short story that really gives the audience an idea of what some African-American people’s lives might have been like in Florida around the 1930’s. Mister Clarence, the protagonist of the story, was a white fisherman, and when he was in town he liked to see a young African-American girl named Betsey. They had seen each other once before this visit. When Mr. Clarence arrived at Betsey house, he found out that Betsey had his child. “Betsey’s red-headed child stands in the door looking like one of those goggly eyed dolls you hit with a ball at the county fair.” (pg368) The mixed child that Betsey and Mister Clarence had disturbed him greatly, for it was not acceptable to have mixed children. If both Betsey and Mister Clarence were the same race, I imagine that the end of the story would be different and instead of Clarence leaving right away, he might have stayed for a while and met his son. However, because of the race barrier there was he was disgusted by his child and left immediately.

The Man Who Was Almost a Man by Richard White displays the stereotypical role of African-Americans in that period. Dave, a 17-year-old African-American boy, is eager for power, freedom, and manhood. He works in the fields for the owner Mr. Hawkins. One day Dave goes to the local shop to try and buy a gun so he can finally feel like a man, and because of having to work in the fields he feels his manhood has been somewhat taken away. If it were not for the sense of no control in his life, he would not have wanted the gun so badly. “Aw, ma, ah done worked hard all a summer n ain ast yuh fer nothing, is ah, now?” (pg376) In addition, if he had not wanted the gun so badly he would not have ended up shooting a mule causing him to feel like he had to run away. All and all, his race caused him to feel this because if he were white he would not be working in fields for less than minimum wage feeling powerless.

Each of these stories are individuals, however, they are all connected by the theme of race that streams throughout each one. Even though they share the same theme, they use it in different ways, and the author shows the theme in different ways. Overall, race will be the one thing that will connect each book with each other.

Jane W
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Inferiority

Post  snachman on Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:22 pm

Inferior is defined as “of low or lower degree or rank, of little or less importance, value” by the Merriam Webster Dictionary. Inferiority can be a feeling that one experienced about themselves, or the way that one views another person. In The Man Who Was Almost a Man, Red Headed Baby, Betsey Brown, and Sweat, inferiority plays a big role. It is the theme that these four books share and it is an emotion that all the characters must deal with.

Dave, from Langston Hughes’s The Man Who Was Almost a Man is a seventeen year old who works on a farm and really wants to prove that he is a man. He decides that in order to do this, he must have a gun. He convinces his mom to let him buy one for his dad, then once he buys it, he takes it and ends up “accidentally-on-purpose” shooting his boss’s mule. Rather than paying the price, he runs away from home with the gun. Dave feels inferior to the men in his life, like his boss and his father, which is why he wants the gun so badly. “Could kill a man with a gun like this. Kill anybody, black or white. And if he were holding his gun in his hand, nobody could run over him; they would have to respect him.” The interesting part about Dave is that he is convinced that shooting a gun will make him a man, and he wants to be a man more than anything, but he is afraid of shooting it. It is like is wants the credit but not the responsibility for his actions. “He clutched the gun stiff and hard in his fingers. But as soon as he wanted to pull the trigger he shut his eyes and turned his head.” His feelings of inferiority toward the other men in his life cause him to buy a gun, which he is clearly too immature to handle intelligently.

In Langston Hughes’s Red Headed Baby, Mister Clarence is a white sailor. The story begins when he is going to visit a lady named Betsey, whom he had visited on his previous journey through the area. He wasn’t there very long before a child comes in despite Betsey and her mother telling him to leave. “Betsey’s red-headed child stands in the door looking like one of those goggly-eyed dolls you it with a ball at the county fair. […] Just staring – blue-eyed. […] A red-headed blue-eyed yellow-skinned baby!” Mister Clarence quickly realizes that this is his child, and he totally freaks out. He does so solely because she is inferior to him because of her race and occupation. Betsey is in a situation of inferiority that she can’t really get out of. Because Mister Clarence is ashamed of the proof that he was around her and because she is inferior to him in society, he leaves her to deal with the feeling of inferiority in society forever.
Betsey Brown, the protagonist in Ntozake Shange’s Betsey Brown is a girl not quite old enough to be considered a teenager yet however, she still has to deal with inferiority. Betsey is black, so although she doesn’t understand why, she is aware of her racial inferiority during the time period. “Susan Linda put a dab of perfume on everybody and asked them to leave quickly cause her mother’d be walkin in the door any moment and weren’t no “niggahs” ‘sposed to be in the house. Betsey knew there was something wrong with that.” (Shange p.28) Not only this, but her grandmother is quite prejudiced. Even though she loves her children and grandchildren she hates the fact that they are African American. As a girl in school, she also has to deal with feeling inferior to the other girls who didn’t want to be her friend. “Betsey thought she was gonna cry or faint. She wanted Lilliana and Mavis to like her, but here she’d made them mad.” (Shange p.21) Even at her young age, poor Betsey has to deal with inferiority already. “Betsey shook her head as if she were shaking off her color and all these problems bot being white made.” (Shange p.28)

Delia from Zora Neale Hurston’s Sweat is a very hard working woman who does laundry for the white people in order to support herself and her spouse. Sykes, her abusive husband, is trying desperately to scare Delia away from her own home so that he can take it for himself and his girlfriend. However, Delia will not be moved. She has paid for that house with her own sweat and work. Considering all this, Delia is in an extremely hard position during the time period. She is a black, woman, with an abusive husband. Being a woman already makes her inferior to men. Being African American makes her an inferior in society. She has an abusive husband, which shows that she is inferior in her own household. Despite this, Delia is a strong-willed person, and she stands her ground against her husband. “Sometime of ruther, Sykes, like everyone else, is going to reap his sowing.” (Hurston p. 28) Fortunately, she was right, and Sykes was bitten by the very snake he had put in the house to get rid of Delia, eliminating one source of inferiority. Despite this and her being hardworking and strong-willed, Delia from Sweat had to live with a feeling of inferiority simply because of her gender and race.

In all of the four books the protagonists deal with inferiority. Dave feels inferior to the men in his life. Mister Clarence feels like the woman he is visiting is inferior to him, and the Betsey from Red-Headed Baby feels inferior to Mister Clarence. Betsey Brown feels inferior because of her race and because of her friends at school. Delia is inferior in society because she is a Black woman, and inferior to her husband. Inferiority is a powerful feeling and it is the significant theme that these books and characters have in common.

PS: I forgot to bring home the short-stories book, so I downloaded Red-Headed Baby, and Sweat on Kindle. That is why some of the page numbers are missing or different.

snachman
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Reading Response 1 Trimester 2

Post  Tommy J. on Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:43 pm

This trimester, we have read one novel named Betsey Brown and three short stories, Sweat, Red-Headed Baby, and The Man Who Was Almost a Man. These four stories relate to one another in many different ways. The three ways in which they relate that stand out are that these books all give insight to what life was like in the periods in which they take place,the second relation is that they focus-whether it be fully, partially, or minimally-on race, and the third connection is that they all show an example of a far from perfect family.

The first thing that connects the three short stories we read along with Betsey brown is that they give the reader insight on what life was like back in the eras in which they were written. For example, in The Man Who Was Almost a Man, Dave, the lead protagonist, did not need any sort of license or permit in order to walk into a store and pay a measly two dollars for a gun, which is certainly not how things would be nowadays. Another example would be of the way things were in Sweat, in this novel the relationship between the two characters, Delia and Sykes, is beyond rocky. It shows how little rights women had, as women today would immediately walk out on their husbands when they did what Sykes did which was to be open about his mistress named Bertha, and mentally and physically abuse Delia. The one time Delia actually stands up for herself is when she picks up the iron skillet and threatens Sykes, as the author put it "She seized the iron skillet from the stove and struck a defensive pose, which act surprised him greatly, coming from her." (Zora Neale HUrst), it appears to be that in this time period, a women walking out on her husband was unheard of. In Red-Headed Baby the sign of the times is very similar to the signs in Sweat, as there is no child support law that prevents the main character, Clarence, from walking out on Betsy and his child to presumably never return, definitely fitting into the 1920's time period I imagined this book taking place in. For Betsy Brown, the main things that showed that this book took place amidst the 1950's and 60's were the subtle uses of the words "po whites", "negro", and "nigras" to name a few, certainly not words that fit into what is considered a socially equal America. Although these books take place in different time periods, they manage to give insight into these time periods very well.

The second connection that was made between these five stories is that they focus on race in one way or another. In The Man Who Was Almost a Man the races of the people surrounding Dave are mentioned as if it's a given, and it is obvious that Dave is just a boy from a poor black family trying to earn a bit of money based off of his boss and the people he works with despite the fact that race is not really a key issue in the story. In Sweat, race is the cause of some bickering between Sykes and Delia, as Sykes disapproves of the fact that Delia washes the clothes of whites. In Red-Headed Baby, it is apparent that Clarence is so surprised and, in a way, embarrassed that he has fathered a baby of the mixed race, and the fact that the baby is of a mixed race, and the realization that the baby is his, is why he departs from the baby's mother's house in such a rushed manner. In Betsey Brown, race is obviously a key factor in the book, as it has been mentioned before, as it comes up in the way people speak of "white trash", African-Americans, and normal everyday words that they used that would be deemed unacceptable today, also, Betsey Brown's father is not liked by his mother-in-law because of his dark colored skin.

The third similarity between the four stories we have viewed this trimester is that these books all show a far from perfect family. In The Man Who Was Almost a Man, it is obvious that Dave is very sheltered, and therefore feels that his key to escaping his parents and arriving into manhood is to obtain a gun. In Sweat Sykes and Delia may be married, but they are anything but in love, as Sykes is very open about his love for another woman, and constantly abuses Delia, and it is not until Sykes is killed by a snake he used to scare Delia that she can finally be at peace. In Red-Headed Baby there is a young woman named Betsy living with a motherly figure known as "Auntie" raising a baby that appears to be blind, def, and mute whose father refuses to acknowledge, much less take responsibility for the son that is most definitely his. In Betsey Brown, the family situation is more stable than it is in the three short stories, but is still rocky, as it is supported by Jane and her husband Greer, who Jane's mom does not approve of, who cannot manage to watch all their children at once, and as a result, bickering is always a constant within the house, and as it happens on page 32, Jane cannot prevent her two boys Charlie and Allard from getting into trouble with the police for trespassing on school grounds: "'but I wanta letya know we don't take to nigras goin out their way to be in our way, if you know what I mean, M'am.'" This direct text reference is one of a few examples showing the instability of the Brown family.

To briefly conclude this paper, these books find their similarities within their differences, as they all are written with different concepts, and based on various things, yet contain so many subtle similarities, with the three mentioned above being the most prominent in these very worthwhile books.

Tommy J.
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Re: Reading Response I Trimester II

Post  Alex B. on Sun Jan 13, 2013 4:15 pm

Alexandria Blake
English
Period 6
1-14-13
Post

Sweat, Red Headed Baby, The Man Who Was Almost a Man, and Betsey Brown are all great pieces of literature. All four of the pieces are similar in many ways. They have similar style types and the characters are related as well. Each story is linked to the next in a specific way.
Sweat, Red Headed Baby, The Man Who Was Almost a Man, and Betsey Brown all are similar in their writing style. All four of the stories include the same writing style. Each story uses a style that give a personality to the characters. One example of the writing style is “look in de box dere Delia, Ah done brung yuh something! She nearly fel upon the box in her stumbling, and when she saw what it held, she all but fainted outright. Sykes! Sykes, mah Gawd! You take dat rattlesnake ‘way from heah!(Hurston, p359).”
In the stories Sweat, Red Headed Baby, and Betsey Brown the characters have racial problems. In Sweat Sykes, one of the main characters, has a problem with white people. This is why he does not approve of his wife‘s, Delia, job were she has to washes the white peoples clothing. He got very upset with Delia since she was doing her job and he brought a rattlesnake into their house to prove his point to her. In Red Headed Baby by Langston Huges, Mister Clarence goes to talk to a girl named Betsey. While he is at her house then he meets a young child. Later on in the story he realizes the child is his and Betsey’s kid. Once he realizes this then he leaves both the child and Betsey. He could never except the fact that he had a mixed race child. In Betsey Brown then there are racial problem was with Susan Linda‘s mother. She did not like to have blacks in her house yet after school Charlotte Ann, Veejay, ad Betsey went over to Susan Linda’s house. “When they finished their anatomical explorations and beautification, Susan Linda put a dab of perfume on everybody and asked them to leave quickly cause her mother‘d be walkin in the door any moment and weren’t no “niggahs” sposed to be in the house.” (Shange, P28).
In Betsey Brown, Sweat, Red Headed Baby, and The Man Who Was Almost a Man then you can find similarities. All four of the stories contain love between characters. Betsey Brown contains two different loves. One is between Betsey, the main character, and Eugene, her love interest. This relationship is hidden at the beginning of the story even though they both like each other. “Seymour had seen Betsey before, but didn’t actually know her. Her cousin Charlie played ball real good, but it was Eugene who’d pointed her out to him. Eugene liked her. As a matter of fact, Eugene had taken to being friends with Charlie just so he’d have a reason to visit, but Betsey and Charlotte Ann knew nothing of this.” (Shange, p52). The other in Betsey Brown is shown by her mother and father. Though out the whole piece then the two show their passion for each other. In Sweat the love is shown between Sykes and his mistress Bertha. He does everything he can for Bertha and even tries to get his wife to move out of their home so he can live with Bertha. Red Headed Baby has love shown between the characters Mister Clarence and Betsey. They both show great passion her one another but Miser Clarence could not get over the fact of the child and how the relationship would both be mixed racially. The Man Who Was Almost a Man had a love story but it was much different then the other three. In the Man Who Was Almost a Man then the boy, Dave Saunders, shows passion for his gun. Even after he kills a mule in the story by shooting the gun he can not resist using his gun again and again. He dreams about his gun and how it felt the first time he used it. He even goes in the middle of the night to find his gun and shoot the remaining bolts.
One other similarity in Sweat, Red Headed Baby, The Man Who Was Almost a Man, and Betsey Brown is that all of the characters let the boys be in control. In Sweat Delia is scared and abused by her husband Sykes. “A great terror took hold of her. It softened her knees and dried her mouth so it was a minute before she could cry or move. Then she saw that it was the bid dull whip her husband liked to carry when he drove. She lifted her eyes to the door and saw him standing there bent over with laughter at her fright. She screamed at him. Sykes, what you throw dat whip on me like dat? You know it would skeer me-looks just like a snake, an‘ you knows how skeered ah is of snake.” (Hurston, p353). Delia’s husband ,Sykes, believes he owns the house and his wife. Thought out the story he does anything in his power to scare Delia, therefore showing her she has no control over anything. In Red Headed Baby then mister Clarence is in control in the relationship as well. Even though he was a guest he still yelled at the child he meet and left with out paying for the drinks he bought. Betsey never even said anything, she let him do what he wanted. The Man Who Was Almost a Man was a story with the male in charge as well. In this story then Dave’s father yelled at Dave’s mother for giving him permeation and money to buy a gun. Betsey Brown had the male in control also because all of Betsey’s friend would do whatever needed to please their boyfriends.
Sweat, Red Headed Baby, The Man Who Was Almost a Man, and Betsey Brown are all great pieces of literature. All four of the story have many characteristic in command. All four have the same writing style, love between characters, have racial problems, and the females let the males take control of the relationships. Each story has a unique plot that is linked to the next in so form. All four are made of great components which creates wonderful and interesting stories in the end.

Alex B.
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Response

Post  Calvin L on Sun Jan 13, 2013 6:05 pm

Calvin Lee 2nd period English

The stories Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston, Red Headed Baby by Langston Hughes, The Man Who Was Almost A Man by Richard Wright, and Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange all have different characters, themes, and styles but at the same time are all rather similar in a way. For one, all the books have some colored character in them and except in Red Headed Baby a colored individual is usually the main character. This leads to each book having dialogue written in the standard African-American dialect which was quite common at the time that these were set in and it gives the story more immersion and a more realistic "feel" to it, as well as accentuating the differences between the races. Racial conflict plays a major role in all of these stories as well, even if it isn't the major conflict it still always shows up in some ways like how Delia had to wash clothes for the white people in Sweat and how Dave was probably in a sharecropper family in The Man Who Was Almost A Man. A lot of the same themes were visited as well, like responsibility and inner conflict when making choices were seen quite often across these stories.


In the story Sweat by Zora Neal Hurston the two main characters are Delia the apparent protagonist and the antagonist her husband Sykes. The main conflict in this story is domestic abuse, as Sykes clearly cheats on Delia and is trying to get her to leave the house by scaring her away. Although it may not seem like race plays a role in this, it does surface when you find out that Delia's job is to wash the clothes of the white people and she has to work hard doing it for little pay. Sykes is very obviously an irresponsible husband and human being in general, he likes to waste what little money they have and he is not faithful to his wife at all. Later at the end of the story when Sykes gets bitten by a snake he was using to try and scare Delia out, she has to decide whether she will help him or not but after some internal conflict she decides not to because of how her life will actually be better after his death. "Too late for everything except her little home."(page 355) Shows how her house was really the only thing left for her that she cared for since her husband no longer loved her.

Red Headed Baby by Langston Hughes is another story but unlike the others, the main character this time is a white man. He goes to the house of a prostitute he used to frequent named Betsy and while he is having a drink there he sees her child and realizes that it is actually his as well. He is surprised to see this as evidenced here "A red-headed blue-eyed yellow-skinned baby?"(page 368) and ends up shunning the child and trying to get him to leave. The book is similar to the others though because it uses a fairly similar dialect and it also has the same conflict/theme surrounding responsibility and making choices. Clarence is obviously not responsible for it was his own child and there was a lot of inner turmoil as it caused him to leave their house abruptly.

The Man Who Was Almost A Man by Richard Wright is the last of the short stories and once again it shares a lot in common with the others. The story is basically about a young adult named Dave who wants to become a "man" and in doing so kills an animal and instead of taking responsibility for it he runs off to where he could be a man "...stretching away, away to somewhere, somewhere where he could be a man."(page 383). When Dave tries to shoot the gun he isn't always sure of himself and this is an inner conflict that he is posed with, just like each of the characters so far. Even though he feels bad for having killed the mule, he still neglects his responsibility and runs away to where he thinks he can be man. Personally I think that if he really wanted to be a "man" he would have stayed and payed off his dept for killing that mule.

The last story we have read some of is Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange, it is a story about a teenage black girl who lives in a large family and has to deal with a lot of day to day things. A lot of racial conflict is shown in the story as well, Betsey is discriminated against at her school a few times because she was black even when someone thought she was telling the truth. "White folks and money seem to go hand in hand."(page 38) shows how the black peoples money problems and racial problems all sort of stemmed from the same source. In this story there is some internal conflict as well, Betsey loses a friend because she made a black lady lose her job as their "nanny" of sorts and then she feels really bad about it because her friends mom had the same job but she worked for white people instead. Betsey also has to struggle with growing up and having dreams despite having to also be realistic in knowing that she doesn't live in a very good domestic situation.

All these stories share a lot of common elements in their conflicts, themes, and styles of writing. Something else we can see is that they also all show that the black people didn't only have racial problems, they had to deal with all the sorts of problems that white people had to deal with too at times. While they show the difference in the races they also show at the same time a surprising similarity for that time period that many people probably didn't realize. No matter what your race is, you can still be an irresponsible person or have domestic issues which are a sort of unifying problem that both races had. The big difference though is that blacks also had a plethora of racial issues added on top of that, making any problems they would have had anyways even worse.

Calvin L
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Further Edited Honors Post

Post  Tommy J. on Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:00 pm

This trimester, we have read one novel named Betsey Brown and three short stories, Sweat, Red-Headed Baby, and The Man Who Was Almost a Man. These four stories relate to one another in many different ways. The three ways in which they relate that stand out are that these books all give insight to what life was like in the periods in which they take place,the second relation is that they focus-whether it be fully, partially, or minimally-on race, and the third connection is that they all show an example of a far from perfect family.

The first thing that connects the three short stories we read along with Betsey brown is that they give the reader insight on what life was like back in the eras in which they were written. For example, in The Man Who Was Almost a Man, Dave, the lead protagonist, did not need any sort of license or permit in order to walk into a store and pay a measly two dollars for a gun, which is certainly not how things would be nowadays. Another example would be the way Sykes treated Delia in Sweat. It shows how little rights women had, as women today would immediately walk out on their husbands when they did what Sykes did which was to be open about his mistress named Bertha, and mentally and physically abuse Delia. The one time Delia actually stands up for herself is when she picks up the iron skillet and threatens Sykes, as the author put it "She seized the iron skillet from the stove and struck a defensive pose, which act surprised him greatly, coming from her." (Zora Neale Hurst). It appears to be that in this time period, a women walking out on her husband was unheard of. In Red-Headed Baby the sign of the times is very similar to the signs in Sweat, as there is no child support law that prevents the main character, Clarence, from walking out on Betsy and his child out of wedlock to presumably never return, definitely fitting into the 1920's time period I imagined this book taking place in. For Betsy Brown, the main things that showed that this book took place amidst the 1950's and 60's were the subtle uses of the words "po whites", "negro", and "nigras" to name a few, certainly not words that fit into what is considered a socially equal America.. Although these books take place in different time periods, they manage to give insight into these time periods very well.

The second connection that was made between these five stories is that they focus on race in one way or another. In The Man Who Was Almost a Man the races of the people surrounding Dave are mentioned as if it's a given, and it is obvious that Dave is just a boy from a poor black family trying to earn a bit of money based off of his boss and the people he works with despite the fact that race is not really a key issue in the story. In Sweat, race is the cause of some bickering between Sykes and Delia, as Sykes disapproves of the fact that Delia washes the clothes of whites. In Red-Headed Baby, it is apparent that Clarence is so surprised and, in a way, embarrassed that he has fathered a baby of the mixed race, and the fact that the baby is of a mixed race, and the realization that the baby is his, is why he departs from the baby's mother's house in such a rushed manner. In Betsey Brown, race is obviously a key factor in the book, as it has been mentioned before, as it comes up in the way people speak of "white trash", African-Americans, and normal everyday words that they used that would be deemed unacceptable today, along with the fact that Betsey attending an integrated school being a key piece in the plot, also, Betsey Brown's father is not liked by his mother-in-law because of his dark colored skin.

The third similarity between the four stories we have viewed this trimester is that these books all show a far from perfect family. In The Man Who Was Almost a Man, it is obvious that Dave is very sheltered, and therefore feels that his key to escaping his parents and arriving into manhood is to obtain a gun. In Sweat Sykes and Delia may be married, but they are anything but in love, as Sykes is very open about his love for another woman, and constantly abuses Delia, and it is not until Sykes is killed by a snake he used to scare Delia that she can finally be at peace. In Red-Headed Baby there is a young woman named Betsy living with a motherly figure known as "Auntie" raising a baby that appears to be blind, def, and mute whose father refuses to acknowledge, much less take responsibility for the son that is most definitely his. In Betsey Brown, the family situation is more stable than it is in the three short stories, but is still rocky, as it is supported by Jane and her husband Greer, who Jane's mom does not approve of, who cannot manage to watch all their children at once, and as a result, bickering is always a constant within the house, and as it happens on page 32, Jane cannot prevent her two boys Charlie and Allard from getting into trouble with the police for trespassing on school grounds: "'but I wanta letya know we don't take to nigras goin out their way to be in our way, if you know what I mean, M'am.'" This direct text reference is one of a few examples showing the instability of the Brown family.

To briefly conclude this paper, these books find their similarities within their differences, as they all are written with different concepts, and based on various things, yet contain so many subtle similarities, with the three mentioned above being the most prominent in these very worthwhile books.

Tommy J.
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FINAL EDITION of Honors Post

Post  Tommy J. on Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:02 pm

This trimester, we have read one novel named Betsey Brown and three short stories, Sweat, Red-Headed Baby, and The Man Who Was Almost a Man. These four stories relate to one another in many different ways. The three ways in which they relate that stand out are that these books all give insight to what life was like in the periods in which they take place,the second relation is that they focus-whether it be fully, partially, or minimally-on race, and the third connection is that they all show an example of a far from perfect family.

The first thing that connects the three short stories we read along with Betsey brown is that they give the reader insight on what life was like back in the eras in which they were written. For example, in The Man Who Was Almost a Man, Dave, the lead protagonist, did not need any sort of license or permit in order to walk into a store and pay a measly two dollars for a gun, which is certainly not how things would be nowadays. Another example would be the way Sykes treated Delia in Sweat. It shows how little rights women had, as women today would immediately walk out on their husbands when they did what Sykes did which was to be open about his mistress named Bertha, and mentally and physically abuse Delia. The one time Delia actually stands up for herself is when she picks up the iron skillet and threatens Sykes, as the author put it "She seized the iron skillet from the stove and struck a defensive pose, which act surprised him greatly, coming from her." (Zora Neale Hurst). It appears to be that in this time period, a women walking out on her husband was unheard of. In Red-Headed Baby the sign of the times is very similar to the signs in Sweat, as there is no child support law that prevents the main character, Clarence, from walking out on Betsy and his child out of wedlock to presumably never return, definitely fitting into the 1920's time period I imagined this book taking place in. For Betsy Brown, the main things that showed that this book took place amidst the 1950's and 60's were the subtle uses of the words "po whites", "negro", and "nigras" to name a few, certainly not words that fit into what is considered a socially equal America.. Although these books take place in different time periods, they manage to give insight into these time periods very well.

The second connection that was made between these five stories is that they focus on race in one way or another. In The Man Who Was Almost a Man the races of the people surrounding Dave are mentioned as if it's a given, and it is obvious that Dave is just a boy from a poor black family trying to earn a bit of money based off of his boss and the people he works with despite the fact that race is not really a key issue in the story. In Sweat, race is the cause of some bickering between Sykes and Delia, as Sykes disapproves of the fact that Delia washes the clothes of whites. In Red-Headed Baby, it is apparent that Clarence is so surprised and, in a way, embarrassed that he has fathered a baby of the mixed race, and the fact that the baby is of a mixed race, and the realization that the baby is his, is why he departs from the baby's mother's house in such a rushed manner. In Betsey Brown, race is obviously a key factor in the book, as it has been mentioned before, as it comes up in the way people speak of "white trash", African-Americans, and normal everyday words that they used that would be deemed unacceptable today, along with the fact that Betsey attending an integrated school being a key piece in the plot, also, Betsey Brown's father is not liked by his mother-in-law because of his dark colored skin.

The third similarity between the four stories we have viewed this trimester is that these books all show a far from perfect family. In The Man Who Was Almost a Man, it is obvious that Dave is very sheltered, and therefore feels that his key to escaping his parents and arriving into manhood is to obtain a gun. In Sweat Sykes and Delia may be married, but they are anything but in love, as Sykes is very open about his love for another woman, and constantly abuses Delia, and it is not until Sykes is killed by a snake he used to scare Delia that she can finally be at peace. In Red-Headed Baby there is a young woman named Betsy living with a motherly figure known as "Auntie" raising a baby that appears to be blind, def, and mute whose father refuses to acknowledge, much less take responsibility for the son that is most definitely his. In Betsey Brown, the family situation is more stable than it is in the three short stories, but is still rocky, as it is supported by Jane and her husband Greer, who Jane's mom does not approve of, who cannot manage to watch all their children at once, and as a result, bickering is always a constant within the house, and as it happens on page 32, Jane cannot prevent her two boys Charlie and Allard from getting into trouble with the police for trespassing on school grounds: "'but I wanta letya know we don't take to nigras goin out their way to be in our way, if you know what I mean, M'am.'" This direct text reference is one of a few examples showing one of the negativities of Jane having too many children to control them all at once.

To briefly conclude this paper, these books find their similarities within their differences, as they all are written with different concepts, and based on various things, yet contain so many subtle similarities, with the three mentioned above being the most prominent in these very worthwhile books.

Tommy J.
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Honors Post

Post  BenP on Sun Jan 13, 2013 8:44 pm

We all have unfortunate challenges in our life. Not everyone has the same challenge because humans are made different from each other. They can however be put in similar situations. In Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston, Red Headed Baby by Langston Hughes, The Man Who Was Almost a Man by Richard Wright, and Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange the characters all have to deal with something related to living in a time where African American people were not given equal rights.
In Sweat a woman named Delia Jones has to deal with her abusive husband Sykes. At first the couple were in love but it later being a tragic hate relationship. (Hurtson, 359) “Syke! Syke, mah Gawd! You take dat rattlesnake ‘way from hea! You gottuh. Oh Jesus, have mussy” Sykes wants to get rid of Delia and does whatever he can to throw her out so he can marry a woman he is having an affair with. Delia Jones never gives up though, she just ignores what Sykes does to her and keeps on going. However she has threatened to bring white people into this. In the end she doesn’t have to because he dies from a snake bite.
In Headed Baby there is a man named Mister Clarence that had sailed over to go to this house he had stayed at. He was looking for this woman named Betsey. He was offered a drink and started talking to her. Later there is a creak of the door. He had saw this little kid peeking through it. He asked Betsey who it was and she said it was hers. The kid was deaf and redheaded which scared Mr. Clawrence because he thought it was probably his. Instead of facing the reality of that being his kid he payed for his drink and ran off, not taking on this challenge.
In The Man Who Was Almost a Man there is a young boy named Dave who had always wanted his own gun. He goes down to Mister Joe’s shop and figures out that he has a gun that he can buy. He wants to prove to everyone and himself that he is a man and he can accept responsibility. Later he at the dinner table he asks his mother if they can get a gun. It goes on for a while but Dave later gets his mother to let him buy the gun for his father on condition that he never uses it. He agrees to it and the next day he goes by Joe’s shop and buys the gun. He brings it with him to the house of a man he works for but the guy does not know he has it. While working Dave decides to go into the woods with the mule. He wants to shoot the gun to see what it is like and aims it at the donkey. He shoots the donkey and people come rushing over. The man he works for doesn’t hurt him but he has to pay him back. Dave knows how lucky he is but is still furious that everyone still thinks of him as a child. He leaves his house and family, he jumps on a train to find complete his challenge of becoming a man.
Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange is about a mixed race family that have many challenges throughout their lives together. The family is gigantic and always has a rushed frustrating morning. The grandmother loves her family but does not like that they have a black father named Greer. She thinks that he has given his children “bad genes” because of his race even though she is partially African American. (Shange, 6) “Slaves and alla that had nothing to do with her family, until jane insisted on bring this Greer into the family and he kept making family” Even though she is not very fond of Greer she still loves her daughter and he grandchildren. Another time there was problems in the family is when the police had brought two of the mother’s children up saying that they had stepped on private property. They could have gotten lynched but since the police officers knew they might be new to the area they gave them a warning. The mother was furious because while all this was going on Greer had been doing surgery on a black man who was hurt for free. She thought that it is not right to focus on that when her children's life could have potentially been in danger.
All People will have life challenges. The relation in these challenges in Sweat by Zora Neale Hurston, Red Headed Baby by Langston Hughes, The Man Who Was Almost a Man by Richard Wright, and Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange is that all of them were around the same time were African Americans did not have equal rights.

BenP
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Honors English Essay

Post  Kathy N. on Sun Jan 13, 2013 9:43 pm

A variety of a language that is distinguished from other varieties of the same language by features of phonology, grammar, and vocabulary and by its use by a group of speakers who are set off from others geographically or socially is the definition of dialect. Authors use dialect mainly when writing about blacks. Everyday African Americans talk with a lot of slang thrown into each sentence when they talk. Authors like to use dialect in books like Sweat by Nora Zeale Hurston, Red Headed Baby by Langston Hughes, The Man Who Was Almost A Man by Richard Wright, Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange, and Black Boy by Richard Wright because it keeps the readers interest and it allows the readers to get acquainted with the personalities and cultures of the people in each book. All these novels include their own form of dialect, and each author chooses the dialect use very intently.
Sweat by Nora Zeale Hurston uses a plethora of varied uses of dialect. Her choice of dialect is quite heavy, meaning everything is in dialect. This makes the book very hard to read because the reader must keep stopping and processing what each character had said. Some people think of dialect as a new language, in which some words coincide with our everyday language. It, as some might assume, takes longer to understand what this new language is actually saying which is why it takes longer to read. However, this does catch the reader’s attention. “Ah don’t keer if you never git through. Anyhow, Ah done promised Gawd and a couple of other men.” (354, Hurston) This particular sentence shows just how heavy the dialect is in Hurstons’ book. “Ah ain’t gointer have it in mah house.” (354, Hurston) All in all, Sweat is the perfect example of a novel with lots of dialect.
Red Headed Baby by Langston Hughes uses a different form of dialect. Rather than changing the words like Hurston did, from care to keer, Hughes just leaves out part of the word. Usually when people think of dialect this isn’t always what they think of, however it is actually very popular. Actually, it’s becoming more popular because people are starting not to pronounce their words as much. Instead of saying about, people say ‘bout. In a book setting it, like Hurstons’, keeps readers attention. If people feel like they can relate to the book more because they feel as though that’s how they speak, then they are more likely to keep reading or read more books by the author. “Howdy! Howdy do, suh? Howdy, if ‘tain’t Mister Clarence now, ‘pon my word!” (367, Hughes) This sentence shows how Langston Hughes just minimizes parts of the word. “Drinkin’ licker, too, huh? Hell of a baby, ain’t yuh? Yuh wouldn’t even do that last time I saw yuh.” (368, Hughes) Red Headed Baby shows how there can be different types of dialect, or of dialect use.
The Man Who Was Almost A Man by Richard Wright shows a good example of how only some phrases use dialect and the rest of the sentence is normal without the use of dialect. Sometimes authors use phrases rather than throwing dialect in the entire sentence. Since dialect can be a lot to handle when reading this gives the readers just the right amount of dialect to interest them but not too much to make them frustrated. Wright does a very good job choosing just the right amount of dialect to put into each novel he writes. “Kin Ah see it?” (373, Wright) “Whut’s tha, Ma?” (376, Wright) These are just a few examples of how Richard Wright uses phrases in his books. In the end, The Man Who Was Almost A Man has a nice happy medium of the use of dialect.
Betsey Brown by Ntozake Shange does something none of the other four stories do. Ntozake Shang uses dialect based on the character she is writing for. Specifically in Betsey Brown, the Grandmother and Betsey have varied use of dialect. Grandma born a long time before Betsey and used to the slang language of the everyday African American speaks with a much heavier use of dialect than Betsey. Betsey barely uses dialect and if she does it’s just a small change like Langston Hughes uses. “You should have practiced you elocution last evening instead of jumping all that colored double roping with those trashy gals from round the way.” (6, Shange) This is an example of something Grandma would say, with a lot of southern accent. “No, Mommy, I just was practicing my elocution, when the kids were making all this noise and you wanted your coffee and Grandma insisted on telling me how lucky we look the way we look because of Daddy.” (8, Shange) There is a major difference between the way Betsey and the way Grandma speaks and Shange is the only author who uses this idea of dialect difference between characters.
Black Boy by Richard Wright is the only novel that uses dialect to inform the reader where the protagonist of the story is at different times. Since the main character moves around a lot during the story it can be hard to follow along. Richard Wright uses his form of dialect to make sure the reader understands that the character is now in the Deep South or wherever else he might be. “Hell, naw! If a building swayed and rocked in the wind, hell, it’d fall! Any fool knows that! Don’t let people maka fool outa you, telling you them things!” (81, Wright) This would be an example of a line out of the book where the author is portraying more of a southern talk. In both The Man Who Was Almost A Man and Black Boy, Richard Wright uses a different and unique form of dialect depending on the topic he is writing about.
Dialect is an important form of slang language. Most book relating to either around the time of the Civil Right Movement or just relating to African Americans use dialect. It captures the reader’s attention and in some cases informs the reader where the events are taking place. Sweat, Red Headed Baby, The Man Who Was Almost A Man, Betsey Brown, and Black Boy all use some form of dialect. However, each author uses the dialect for a different reason and uses a different form of dialect. Even The Man Who Was Almost A Man and Black Boy, both written by Richard Wright, use a different form of dialect. This just goes to show how powerful dialect really is, if the authors put so much time into thinking about what would help or hurt their novel.

Kathy N.
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1000 word post

Post  Rachel D on Sun Jan 13, 2013 10:09 pm

The characters and theme of any form of literature is very important when trying to understand the meaning behind the piece of work. Zora Neale Hurston wrote a short story called Sweat about a hard workingwoman name Delia Jones stuck in a bad marriage with a man named Sykes. She works hard, her husband spends the money, and then beats her. In Langston Hughes story Red Headed Baby, the main character Mr. Clarence visited a woman he used to see, they talk for a while before he realizes he has a son, at which point he quickly leaves. The Man Who Was Almost a Man by Richard Wright is about a boy named David who tries to protect himself from bullying by possessing a gun. Ntozake Shang’s book called Betsy Brown is about young Girl in 7th grader named Betsy who is coming age to the world of adult hood. Each of these stories is very different, but they possess similarities too. In Betsy Brown, The Man Who Was Almost a Man, Red Headed Baby, and Sweat similar representations of characters and theme are expressed.
In all four stories each character is different, but they all have similarities too. For instance both David and Mr. Clarence run away from the consequences of their actions. David shoots a mule named Jenny and instead of facing the consequences he jumps a train and leaves behind his home. Wile Mr. Clarence finds out he has a son when he visits a woman he used to see, and instead of facing the consequences for his actions he also leaves. Similarly, David is also like Betsy, they are both immature in their own way. While Betsy is young and untouched by the harshness of life; David is naive to his surroundings and the temptations of possessing the power of a gun. Likewise, Delia is not too different from David, especially in the situation where someone is hurt but they don’t have the courage to help him or her. “She could hear Sykes calling in a most despairing tone as one who expected no answer. The sun crept on up, and he called. Delia could not move- her legs had gone flabby. She never moved, he called, and the sun kept rising” (Sweat, Hurston, page 363). When Sykes was in dire need of help, Delia didn’t choose to leave him to die because of her hatred for him, but instead she let her fear rule her so he died. While with David it was a mule named Jenny that paid the consequence for his action. He shot her and was to frightened to get help, because he would be blamed for whatever happened to her. “He looked in the distance of home, wanting to go back, wanting to get help. But he saw the pistol lying in the damp black clay” (The Man Who Was Almost A Man, Wright, page 379). Delia’s life moved on when Sykes was dead, similarly David’s moved on when he jumped a train, so he could travel far away from consequences. “Ahead the long rails were glinting in the moonlight, stretching away to somewhere, somewhere where he could be a man…” (The Man Who Was Almost A Man, Wright, page 383). Mr. Clarence’s situation is also so similar to Betsy’s situation because in both stories people have children carelessly. With Betsy she is one of those children while Mr. Clarence is one of the people having a kid. The main difference is that Betsy has a family and a father who sticks around, but with Mr. Clarence the kid is left to grow up without a father. The characters in every story are very important and we can sometimes learn about the characters through similarities they have with characters from other stories this is also the case with the theme of a story.
The themes of each of the stories are also similar in many ways, like with Delia and Betsy, they may be very different in age and in the situations they are in, but they’re both located in the Deep South. The theme of each of the four stories is very connected to their location, and the time period. Since it was a time that racism was extremely common and the Deep South was a breeding ground for racist born from old traditions. All four of the stories are built off of this common theme. Each of the characters faces racism every day, and if they don’t understand it, it’s only a matter of time till they do. There are many times Betsy comes into contact with racism even when she doesn’t fully understand it origins. In many stories the background emphasis on racial issues is present, just like with these four.
The similarities in different stories of character and theme are expressed in Betsy Brown, The Man Who Was Almost a Man, Red Headed Baby, and Sweat. Each story is drastically different in situation and environment, but the underlying similarities give use new perspectives on each of the stories, and sometimes even better let use under stand the stories. Whether the stories connect because they are in the Deep South, or because the characters have similarities, they are still very different from each other. The differences are what make them unique but they also make them similar, it’s because they’re so different that their similarities are so much more important. It’s easier to realize something in contrast with something different, like with colors, when you see black and white next to each other its easier to notice them. It’s important to realize both the similarities and differences between stories to fully understand the main point.

Rachel D
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Post  Sadie C on Sun Jan 13, 2013 11:38 pm

Sweat, by Zora Neale Horston, Red Headed Baby, by Langston Hughes, The Man Who Was Almost a Man, by Richard Wright and Betsey Brown, by Ntozake Shange are all stories with many layers. Although three of these tales are short stories and one is a novel they share many important main ideas including the themes of race and family ties.
Sweat, Red-headed Baby, The Man Who Was Almost a Man and Betsey Brown all explore trying to escape family relationships. In Betsey Brown, Greer is torn between his family and helping his race get equality. He thinks his children should join him in his fight. Jane, the mother, thinks the opposite. She says the children should act like children, not freedom fighters. The oldest child Betsey, is stuck in between these conflicting ideas. She feels drowned in expectation. Her family expects her represent the race, but only in a well-mannered well-dressed way. This is too much pressure, and she doesn't realize they are doing it out of love. Betsey runs away from her family, and in finding her her father begins to understand her plight.
The Man Who Was Almost a Man also involves running away. Dave is a seventeen year old boy from poor black family. Dave wants power over his father, the white people and his brother, and thinks a gun will give it to him. “Kill anybody, black or white. And if he were holding his gun in his hand, nobody could run over him; they would have to respect him.” (Wright, 371) Like Betsey, Dave doesn't consider that his family cares about him as he leaves. “They treat me like a mule, n then they beat me... N ma had t tell on me.” (Wright, 383) Dave left because the gun he had wanted so much had instead brought him ridicule. In effect, it made him smaller in peoples and his family’s eyes instead of larger.
In Red Headed Baby, Mr. Clarence escapes from his child. This is unique because instead of children trying to escape their parents or adults running away from adults, Mr. Clarence is running away from his child. When he returns to a small town in Florida, he is shocked and terrified that this “Damn little red-headed stupid-faced runt of a child” (Hughes, 369) is his son, Mr. Clarence escapes. He leaves the house and never even acknowledges the child is his His decision to abandon his family changes all of the characters lives. Betsy and her mother will have to take care of little Clarence. Little Clarence won't have a father he can rely on, and Mr. Clarence will have to always live with the knowledge that he has a child.
In Sweat the protagonist, Delia escapes her husband. As opposed to the other stories Delia chose her husband freely, and perhaps this is why she feels she can't leave him as easily as if they had just been thrown in together. Delia’s husband, Sykes, tries to force her out of the house by bringing in a rattle snake. She refuses to give in or leave, and eventually the snake bites Sykes. Delia runs away and watches her husband die. “she could barely reach the chinaberry tree, where she waited in the growing heat while inside she knew the coldriver was creeping up and up to extinguish that eye, which must know by now that she knew.” (Hurston, 364) In all of these stories, the characters decide they would be better off without their family. And in all of the stories (eccept Betsey Brown) we are left with the impression that the families won't be back together.
Race is also an important theme in these tales. These stories are set between the1920’s and 60’s, a time known for civil rights. They all are connected to civil rights, and indeed race is an important theme of all of them. Mr. Clarence, of Red Headed Baby, abandons his son because he is yellow. Every time he looks at Betsy or her mother he thinks about how they are black or how he is white, and whenever he looks at his son he thinks about how ugly he is.
Delia and Sykes are both disdainful of, and in the power of, white people. They are poor and black and live in the 1950s. Delia first makes her husband mad enough for him to try to get her to leave by washing white peoples clothing. He doesn't want their stuff in his yard, and dislikes that they have to rely on white people for money. “... keep them white folks’ clothes outa dis house.” (Hurston, 354) The comment that pushes Sykes to let the snake loose, the very snake that kills him, is Delia’s threat to tell the white people that he’s abusing her. “Ah’m goin to de white folks ‘bout you, mah young man, de very nex’ time you lay yo han’s on me.” (Hurston 361)
The Man Who Was Almost a Man is the story of a boy from a poor and racially oppressed community. Dave has to work for white people who give him little power. Dave is not treated as a man, or even as if he had full intelligence by white people even more so than he is by people of his own race. This, along with his family, is what prompts Dave to get a gun.
Race figures a more obvious role in Betsey Brown than in the other stories. Betsey is from one of the few rich black families in her state. She transfers to a white school, and blames white people for taking her away from her friends. Betsey writes insults to white people in chalk on the sidewalk and plays hopscotch over it. Although her father wants her to fight for racial rights, Betsey wants to learn how to be a black person, not how to be accepted by white people.
All four stories revolve around two themes: the themes of trying to run away from family, and of race. Red Headed Baby, the Man who was Almost a Man, Sweat and Betsey Brown, are written from very different points of view in varying styles. They are all amazing pieces separately, but when put together these stories create complete pictures of racial discrimination and leaving family.

Sadie C
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Honors 1000 word post

Post  Henry L. on Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:59 pm

Sweat, Red-Headed baby, Betsey Brown, and The Man Who Was Almost a Man are three short stories and one novel set in the time of racial segregation and Jim Crow laws. Race and racism however, take a backstage during most of these books and the authors focus on rich detail and plot. Sweat, by Zora Neale Hurston, is about a hardworking woman named Delia, and her good-for-nothing-husband Sykes, “Syke Jones ain’t wuth de shot an’ powder hit would tek tuh kill ‘em. Not to huh he ain’t.” (Hurston, 4) Sykes is trying to get their house away from her in order to us for his own purposes. He tries to use her fear of snakes to drive her out, but in the end the rattlesnake that her put in her room ends up biting him instead. As he is dying, she decides not to help him and he succumbs to the venom. The Man Who Was Almost a Man, by Richard Wright, is about a 17 year old boy named Dave who is driven by his desire to be treated like a man to buy a gun. After he gets the gun, he hides it from his mother, and brings it with him to his job on the farm, while attempting to shoot it he accidently shoots his boss’s mule and kills her. He is later discovered and he runs away from the farm out of shame. Red-Headed Baby by Langston Hughes is about a man, Mr. Clarence, who visits someone he used to know and is horrified to find out that he had a son who is partially African-American. Betsey Brown, by Ntozake Shange, is about a young African-American girl and her chaotic family who live in St. Louis and their everyday experiences. These are all well-known stories that have engaging plots but also have deeper similarities conveyed through important themes and unique characters.
Themes play a big role in most books. In some they take a backstage to the plot while in others they are the main part. However, in these stories the plot and themes blend seamlessly. For example, the theme of greed runs throughout Sweat and The Man Who Was Almost a Man. In Sweat, Sykes Jones’ greed prompts him to do foolish things in order to drive his wife from their house so that he could have it for himself. The theme of greed presents itself in The Man Who Was Almost a Man in the form of Dave’s desire for a gun. His desire however, is not satisfied when he gets the gun, instead his greed leads him to shoot his employer’s mule and to run away from his home. Another major theme that consumes all four stories is that of immaturity versus maturity. This theme manifests itself in Betsey Brown in the form of Betsey’s unawareness and ignorance toward racism and other racial injustice in the South. In Sweat, Sykes’ greed is intertwined with his immaturity, both of which balance Delia’s hardworking and mature character. In Red-Headed Baby, Mr. Clarence is rather immature when it comes to accepting his son as his own. The plot of this story revolves mainly around this point. The themes of immaturity and maturity both surface in the same character, Dave, in The Man Who Was Almost a Man. Before Dave gets his gun, he feels that he is immature and that no one sees him as a man. But once he has the gun, he feels powerful and grown up, “In the gray light of dawn he held it loosely, feeling a sense of power.” (Wright,5). This pride leads to the death of his employer’s mule and his reversion to immaturity at the mule’s funeral when he breaks down. He then resolves not to be childish anymore and takes the gun and leaves to somewhere where he can be a man. Racism is another big theme that is in many books set in this timeframe. It, however, only affects Red-Headed Baby and Betsey Brown in any significant amount. Yet another very important theme in many stories is good versus evil, this theme is one of the underlying themes in both Sweat and The Man Who Was Almost a Man. In the same way that Sykes and Delia are counterparts in many other themes, they symbolize the conflict between the two in Sweat. In The Man Who Was Almost a Man, evil, symbolized by the gun, has no counterpart and eventually takes over Dave and causes him to do horrible things. These themes are the main underlying themes of these stories but there are still many more themes that connect them.
Characters are another big part of literature whose differences and similarities are fundamental to these stories. There is a virtually unending supply of similarities between the people in these stories. For example, both Sykes Jones and Mr. Clarence are highly judgmental, Sykes of his wife, and Mr. Clarence of anything to do with people unlike him, even his own son. This is similar to Vida, Betsey Brown’s grandmother, who is racist to her offspring as well. Another example is how both Betsey and Dave, although very different ages, both show a similar degree of immaturity, both are trying to rid themselves of it, Betsey through acquisition of knowledge and Dave through acquisition of his gun. There are still many more connections to be made between these very different characters. Although there are many similarities, these people are all unique in many ways, whether it is where they live, or how old they are, or whatever; they are still their own distinctive character. And that is what makes these stories distinctive.
These four stories have many similarities, both subtle and apparent. They are all of the same genre but have very different plots and at first seem very different. It is in the themes and characters that these three short stories and one novel have anything in common. But once one understands this, it is obvious that although each tells its own story, their underlying components are intertwined and analogous.

Henry L.
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