This book has captured the ability to show how racism is a burden and how to avoid racist attitude. The book displays the innocence of a young boy and his brother who face rejection in tender part of their life in both the white and the black community where at tender age, they grow up believing they are “white” and even accept the society just to discover later that they are “black” until a Christian lady Dora rescues them by adopting them and changing their values of life by helping them embrace a new path. Apart from this identity problem, they also experience emotional distress at a tender age when their mother deserted them and then they were made to live with their alcoholic father who lived in a black community. William was a white skinned boy living with black relatives.
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The story covers the childhood mistreatment, being overworked and betrayal and eventually success. Greg and Mike were to learn how to cope with the color divide since the collapse of their parent’s business and marriage that led to return of their father to his roots in Muncie Indiana, where they discovered that their father was biracial of a black woman and a white father, unfortunately, it was during this time that feelings on race and color were major interest of the Civil Rights Movement. The boys found themselves being rejected in both white and black community, where privilege and opportunity belonged to the white while oppression and no opportunity belonged to the black hence those who appeared black prayed to pass for white to escape the racial hatred.
These experiences shaped Greg into what he is today and show him in a bleak way probably what he would have become due to the color divide, and the story displays the memoir of someone who has experienced both sides and endured despite being cheated, being denied money and chances to love and succeed, William prevailed. The story divides into three major parts, Greg’s life, his father’s life, and Mike’s life. Starts with rejection from their mother, then trying all of them trying to blend in the White community, and their lives negatives, for instance, the two school officials who got upset when he expressed his interest in white girls and some got angry during graduation as he marched with the black girl.
Miss Dora is featured as luck later in the story when William looks back into his childhood life and finds strength to persevere to obtain success, he does not dwell on his father’s failure but instead find a strong attachment to him. Miss Dora shows him how Christian love has power over the resentment and rejection they both felt and gave them a reason to embrace education which the found to be the best salvation to their problem lead them towards a better life.
Greg William’s experiences were so isolated, the racism he faced at tender age and in his teenage life, while he tried to mature as a normal child in both communities. He was a young boy growing up normally in Virginia as a white child in a white family then, later his father managed to pass as a white even though he was biracial, which enabled him get good business opportunities like the booming diner which it’s regulations were based on segregation laws. Everything was perfect for this family until the monster misfortune happens that change their entire lives as they experience rejection and segregation as they fight racism. Their lives were majorly defined by issues of race and color divide. The book show how racism existed with humor and drama.
William was raised until he was ten years old convinced that he was a white kid, his father Tony, he was told and he never doubted even for one moment that he was an Italian; they are abandoned by their parents and were raised in a black community by his father’s relatives who are black. I t is at this phase of life that he discovers painfully he is black and accepts and try to fit in. William and his brother had a childhood that any human would not endure, but despite being the target of rejection from the two races, he endured all this and came out successful trying to build a bridge between the races. This almost wrecked his brother’s life but William never lost his will and determination to conquer the mistreatment they faced, the hatred, the hunger, and eventually the betrayal and mother’s rejection.
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This easily robbed them of life opportunities and love which if it were not Miss Dora who constantly reminded them of how Christian love and perseverance would take them places. He makes people understand and analyze how every event was affecting him, he presents his father as an alcoholic and their lifestyle without reliving the regrets of his father as a failure and how he prevails all the negatives he faced when he comes out alive in the pages and show what it could have been. He owes his eventual success to Miss Dora’s words and his endurance of the earlier life.
Gregory H.Williams. Life On The Color Line. New York: Dutton 1996.pp285.
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