If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester B. Himes

If He Hollers Let Him Go by Chester Himes

copyright 1945

“If He Hollers Let Him Go” is a novel written by Chester B. Himes and published in 1945. The novel tells the story of Bob Jones, a Black shipyard worker living in Los Angeles during World War II. Jones is a highly educated man, but due to racial discrimination, he is only able to find work in the shipyards. Despite his intelligence, Jones is constantly belittled and degraded by his white coworkers and supervisors.

Throughout the novel, Jones struggles with feelings of anger and frustration as he faces the daily injustices of racism. He is constantly on edge, unsure of when the next racist comment or action will come. Jones’ internal turmoil is reflected in the novel’s title, which references a phrase used to describe the anger and desperation felt by Black men in the face of racial oppression.

The novel also explores the theme of sexual harassment and the objectification of Black women. Jones’ white coworkers often make lewd comments and advances towards the Black women in the shipyard, and Jones is powerless to stop it. This further adds to his feelings of hopelessness and anger.

Himes’ writing in “If He Hollers Let Him Go” is raw and powerful, capturing the intensity of Jones’ emotions and the reality of the racist society he lives in. The novel is a stark reminder of the systemic racism and oppression that Black Americans have faced throughout history.

Chester B. Himes

Overall, “If He Hollers Let Him Go” is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that delves into the harsh realities of racism and discrimination in America. Himes’ writing is both poignant and evocative, and the novel remains relevant today as a reflection of the ongoing fight for racial justice.

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