Ellison’s narrative, A party down at the square, depicts public lynching at Southern point. The story is told from the perspective of a white witness from Cincinnati who was visiting his aunt. Throughout the lynching process, there is a violent storm that havocs the town’s residence, making the narrator uneasy. The observer’s voice describes the events and offers some analysis that can be insightful to the readers. Apparently, the fact that the narrator was also white, he was against the atrocities against the black people.
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Lynching remains one of the most horrific experiences in the history of African Americans. At the beginning of this story, the reader is elated, thinking that the story is about a party. A twist of expectations happens when it becomes apparent that there is nothing to celebrate since a black person will be burned in front of a courthouse (Ellison 1997). At the Courthouse, “the bronze statue of the general standing there in the square was like something alive…seem to be smiling down at the nigger” (Ellison 1997, p. 4). The sculpture symbolizes the white supremacy, which has been stripped of humanity and finds enjoyment in torturing the African Americans.
Racism is specific to individuals and context and should not be generalized to all people of a specific ethnic community. It is interesting that the white narrator states, “Every time I eat barbecue I’ll remember that nigger. His back was just like a barbecued hog’ (Ellison, 1997, p. 9). This statement shows that he was traumatized by the situation and was not in support of white supremacy. Through the narrator’s voice, the audience can relive the pain that African Americans experienced as people spectated their death.
Conclusively, although I have experienced some prejudice and discrimination, it is nothing compared to lynching a man while people spectate and enjoy the sight. The story reminds me of the reasons we must all stand for equality and eradicate racism. All humans are equal regardless of their sex or race, and committing atrocities against them is a beastly act deserving punishment. I am glad that lynching is now in the past; nonetheless, I think there is still more to be done to make society a good place for all people.
Ellison, R. (1997). A party down at the square. Esquire, 127(1), 90-94.