Monday, February 18, 2008

Sympathy or Pity?

One of the questions in the back of my mind through the entire Richard Wright book was if I should be sympathetic towards Jake or simply have pity? Richard Wright goes through Jake's day showing the troubles of a black man during the depression. But even though there were troubles back then that I couldn't even imagine now, my final feelings toward Jake Jackson was indeed a feeling of pity. It is sad everything that he had to go through but his ignorance and lack of compassion for what should be important to him does not help his cause. As a third party looking on, it seems as if Jake brings everything wrong in his life down upon himself without making any conscious effort to make himself and his wife better. He continually gets deeper and deeper into debt, with the loans that he does take being wasted on alcohol and the attempt at prostitutes. The continual mentioning of Jake beating his wife throughout the novel is frustrating, but at the end when he goes home drunk to his wife and attempts to beat her again gives the reader anything but the intention at sympathy for this poor black man.

The novel runs through many hardships for Jake, from problems at home that he instigates to problems at work, which he also instigates. Jake, although is on thin ice at work, still does not take it seriously enough. He continually talks and gets in trouble at work after being threatened to be fired three times now. After work he takes yet another loan and after losing it all at the bar because he was not be careful enough with the money, the reader pities Jake for not being smart enough with his money and what he is going to have to do to repay the debt that he is in.

One of the reasons why Jake seems to be asking for trouble may be the fact that he is a very proud man. He has this thought which is always conscious in his mind that he is right and everyone else is wrong. His unwillingness to take responsibility for his life is also another reason why he is pitied. At the end of the night when Jake walks home, I was hoping that he would realize after his night at the bar that he needs to start taking responsibility, but no, he talks about how much his wife is going to pay when he gets home. The novel ends on a sad note, Jake walks in and attempts to beat her, she knocks him unconscious and talks about how she no longer wants to live. Not only has Jake not taken care of his own life, he has also ruined somebody else's life, which is terrible and all the reader can ultimately do is pity this man.

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