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In the story Samuel, by Grace Payel, four African American boys, by the names of Alfred, Calvin, Samuel and Tom, were playing in between the cars on a subway train. While the boys were laughing at a woman for telling them what they were doing was dangerous, an angry man pulled the emergency cord and Samuel was crushed and killed in-between the subway cars. Samuel’s mother mourned the loss of her son and later had another son, but there could never be another Samuel. The men and women who could have saved Samuels life, didn’t because they were afraid, racially divided and had the wrong mentality.
The story is told in omniscient point of view, allowing the audience to hear the thoughts of the men and women. When the audience can read what everyone is thinking, the women seem more disapproving of the act. One lady who wanted to interfere with what’s going on is “afraid they’d be fresh and laugh at her and embarrass her” (4). This one lady could have caused this story into a different path, had she said something earlier. She was so afraid that these boys would embarrass her that she let her pride get in the way of the safety of the boys.
The racial barrier played a role in how this story turned out. Out of all the men and women, the audience could mainly view one of the woman’s thoughts specifically. In the story, it was said “one of the ladies wanted to get up and say be careful you dumb boys” (4) but she didn’t tell the boys anything because “three of the boys were negro” (4). This woman is intimidated by three young boys, not because they’re dangerous but simply because they’re black. The racial barrier between these two groups of people are so dividing that the adults won’t even try to discipline them even if it might potentially save these kids lives.
The men could have had the biggest influence of these boys, but they did nothing. The two men reminisced about what it was like for them. The men thought “of some of the brave things they had done when they were boys and jiggling didn’t seem so risky” (3). They had a “boys will be boys” mentality and they even knew what they were doing was dangerous. Instead of doing something to help these boys from harm, they allowed that mentality to prevent them from doing anything.
In conclusion, No one liked what the boys were doing, but no one said anything because of fear, race and a bad mentality. The ladies fear controlled how she handled the situation. She was so afraid of how these boys would react to her attempt of warning them, solely because the color of their skin, that she waited till it was too late to say something. The men, who could have influenced these boys, brushed off their dangerous behavior with that “boys will be boys” mentality. If one of the ladies or men would have said something when they first noticed it, Samuel could have possible gotten off that train alive.
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