The Important Scene
One of the most significant scenes in the first act was the conversation between Lyle, his wife Jo, and Parnell. Jo is worried that her husband Lyle may be sentenced for committing transgression long ago. She considers it an unfortunate mistake that Richard was dead, and Lyle claims self-defense (Baldwin, 2013). The police are not very supportive of African-Americans who show stories of violence. However, Lyle is not worried and tries to assure his wife and friend of his safety. This scene reveals the central theme of the play – hatred towards black men. In addition, the issue of justice is vividly displayed in this conversation. Parnell is Lyle’s friend; yet, he is also a friend of a murdered man’s father. As a consequence of this friendship, Parnell does not want Lyle to be sentenced. At the same time, he does not want to be judged for protecting a man of color. As a result, Lyle is not punished for killing Richard.
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A Confusing Character
To my mind, the most suspicious character is Parnell, indeed especially considering the described scene. Parnell is the local newspaper’s editor who was born and raised in the midst of wealth and privilege. However, he does not seem to reject his affluence despite his protests about racial equality and liberal views in public. He is a friend of both Lyle and a killed black man’s father (Baldwin, 2013). Even though he desires to sentence the victim’s killer, he also does not want to betray his friend. As a result, he is unwilling to disclose any evidence that raises great doubts and suspicions about Lyle’s claims of innocence. Despite Parnell’s solid views on justice, he still wants to protect Lyle, which contradicts the law and seems immoral to the victim’s father. Therefore, this character has a very dubious nature with his ambiguous perspectives on different matters.
Baldwin, J. (2013). Blues for Mister Charlie: A play. Random House Publishing Group.