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The Sky Is Gray
“The Sky Is Gray” Deals With Racism and Offers a Courageous Solution That Challenges The Rules of Society.
In a society that is divided by the polarities of black and white, all citizens must abide by the strict rules of separation. However, there are some, and usually only a few, who realize that this ominous society in which they live must not dictate such terms. Eight-year-old James from rural Louisiana travels with his mother to a white-dominated town, in order to visit the dentist: James narrates Ernest Gaines’ story “The Sky Is Gray.” The author proposes that those refusing to accept society’s rules on race relations may provide part of a solution to eradicate prejudices. He is able to accomplish this with a young black man who uses education and reasoning as support, and through an elderly couple who exercise compassion in the story.
The young college man demands radical change in race relations when he suggests that educating oneself in a white-dominated society is part of the solution. The nameless young man quickly becomes alienated in the small waiting room of the dental office, when he confronts the black community’s status in society by asserting that, “We don’t question is exactly our problem.” He advocates to “Question everything. Every stripe, every star, every word spoken. Everything,” as he does not trust the symbols or the ideology of democracy. The young man stirs many emotions among his own people in the crowded room with his way of thinking, especially that of an outraged preacher and a baffled but amused elderly lady, when he challenges the very existence that they have learned to live within. While the reader is unsure whether the young man’s logic has been widely heard outside the dentist office, he/she can confidently presume that in time it will be, as the determined young man pursues a college education which will enable him “to read and to ask questions.”
It quickly becomes apparent that the young man no longer wants to complacently participate in a society where his people have never been given a chance. He makes it clear to all those listening that change is essential for the future of the next generation; and he believes that this change will come through the future generations being educated. We see this as he announces, “But it will be men who listen to their heads and not there heart who will see that your children will have a better chance than you had.” We are all aware of how strong a mother’s love for her children is, yet in the waiting room, Mama just shakes her head, implying her disapproval for the young man’s words. One would think that she would want a different life for James. Perhaps she didn’t agree with the solution in education the young man was presenting to his audience, or perhaps and more likely, it had been ingrained in her head that a black person’s role in society would always be the same as she had known it, and that a black person would never have a place in the educational system. I strongly believe that Mama, and many like her think there is no hope for a better chance. Nevertheless, in desperate attempts to influence the older generation, such as Mama, the college man courageously leaps out of society’s defined boundaries and refuses to step back in. He does this by expanding his knowledge, which has enabled him to voice his opinion where nobody dares. Furthermore, he faces obvious resistance from traditional blacks and poses a threat to oppressive whites. And more importantly, the unnamed cantankerous man was expressing his objection to racial rules during an era when whites were still capable of using force on such deviates.
When the college man and the preacher become engaged in a religious disagreement, the young man uses powerful reasoning in attempts to refuse society’s white-dominated rules. The young man discards all etiquette and brilliantly challenges the preacher’s faith and humility as he asks him, “Show me one reason to believe in the existence of a God.” While it takes courage to defy the cruel reality of a society, it takes audacity to reject the existence of God, based on reason, to a preacher and the church, in a predominantly religious community. This is significant to the foundation of the college boy’s cause as it indicates how passionate and determined the college boy is in his beliefs; additionally he challenges a powerful and influential institution that very few spoke.............
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