Black Out: Who Wins?
Over the span of a few short paragraphs Roger Mais captures a whole plethora of relationships between individuals and two different societies. Set in the time period of the Second World War, the story takes place in the West Indies. The reader is exposed to the race relations of that time period. The race identity and perception of a black West Indies man is juxtaposed against the race identity of a White American woman. Following that, the author weaves in gender relations. Finally, Mais ends with class identity of each character. The story takes the shape of a subconscious class, gender and race war between two characters who symbolically represent the views of their respective societies.
In order to explore the question of “who won?” thoroughly we need to define and identify the value society assigns to the various accidental qualities the woman and man have. First, the story began with the race of the two characters. In the woman's society black is worthy of lynching and white is by all means superior. In the man's society, neither color holds higher priority. For him there is only man and woman. Then we began to see the class angle developing, where the woman seemed to be of a higher economic background. We could garner this information through the way in which they treated their cigarettes (the woman discards a barely smoked cigarette, while the man is shown reusing a half smoked cigarette that was saved for the purpose of being re-smoked). Lastly their gender comes into play and unfortunately through any lens, the woman ends up with the shorter straw. Therefore he gained superiority in gender.
Although we could decide who won, in this social cold war of theirs', by simply assigning “won” or “lost” tallies to the above mentioned competing identities each person held; that is far too simple and manages to scratch only at the surface of the story.
One can say that, the man lost because he at the end had to stoop to a lower...
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