The history of the African-American search for freedom and equity has always been tragic. Although the abolishment of slavery was proclaimed many years ago, it became an integral part of the American society. One cannot find exact reasons for that. It seems that the idea of inequality and discrimination is rooted in the general reception of reality. In my opinion, the book “Praying for Sheetrock” makes everyone see the world of inequality from a new perspective.
Every conflict can be looked at from different angles. A person may justify everything if he or she supports and believes in the particular idea or notion. I would like to evaluate the struggle for civil rights described in the book “Praying for Sheetrock” from different perspectives.
First, I find it important to express my opinion concerning the general condition of civil right movements of that period in the United States of America. It is important for my analysis of the story depicted in the book. Thus, America experienced the intense awakening of civil rights. The leader of civil rights movement, Martin Luther King, inspired people to believe in their value and rights to have the same life as others. Nevertheless, these issues did not reach McIntosh Country. During the intense period of valuable political and social changes, this small area experienced its own history.
I would like to start the evaluation of the conflict from the perspective of the main antagonist — Tom Poppel. The primary task of Poppel, being the sheriff of the community, is to maintain peaceful coexistence of both white and black minorities. It should be noted that Poppel is a deep-rooted racist who believes that African-Americans have to be controlled with the help of restraint and dominance.
Poppel engages black residents of the county into local political issues, but he manipulates all of them at the same time. Thus, the perspective of Poppel is predetermined by his vision of black people. He does not accept any other ways of governance, as far he believes they will ruin everything. He is a stubborn and “feudalistic” leader. On the one hand, his aim is to avoid disorder. On the contrary, he makes use of his position — Poppel receives high revenues from illegal activities in the community.
Thurnell Alston is a protagonist of the story. He is a disabled black man with a highly developed sense of dignity. He has no education and special skills to become a leader, but his point is clear — it is impossible to live in such conditions anymore. He is a representative of a new vision and he decides to act after a white officer kills a black man, Ed Finch, without any purpose. Thus, Alston becomes a leader who aims at ending Poppel’ rule. In my opinion, Alston is ready to fight until the end because he has nothing to lose. This fact makes him powerful.
One more perspective should be taken into consideration — the perspective of the whole society. People at McIntosh County know each other. Some of them are direct descendants of slaves while others are descendants of slave owners. They have been living in one place for many years. It is a paradox that they still are hostile towards each other. Considering this, it is logical that black community commences rebellion. Years of suppression can result only in massive outburst. The only thing any struggle needs — a leader who can direct people’s rage and desire to win.