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Big Black Good Man Analysis

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Point of View “Big Black Good Man”

Big Black Good Man is a short story that is controlled by the narrator’s point of view. Olaf Jensen, the hotel manager, judged the big black good man harshly throughout the whole story without even knowing him. Olaf is an unreliable narrator because he misrepresented Jim, the big black good man. Unreliable narrators intentionally or unintentionally misrepresent events and misdirect readers (342). Mr. Jensen unintentionally misrepresented Jim to the readers starting with their first encounter.

“Well, he didn’t seem human. Too big, too black, too loud, too direct, and probably too violent to boot,” (Wright 351). This was Mr. Jensen’s initial observation during their first encounter. He is intimidated by this man after only seeing his appearance and compares Jim’s excess to his shortcomings. He said that Jim reminded him “how puny, how tiny, and how weak, and how white he was,” (Wright 351). Olaf’s insecurities caused him to be an unreliable narrator because he judged Jim unfairly and preemptively.

After receiving his room, Jim requested whiskey and a woman. Olaf reluctantly said yes and called the one woman he thought would be best. Before calling her, he thought to himself “God oughtn’t make men as big and black as that,” (Wright 353). He tried to discourage her by telling her that he was big, but she didn’t care how big he was. When she arrived, he stressed to her again about how big and black he was. Lena’s reply was again one of nonconcern. She was a working girl and was accustomed to being indiscriminate. For five additional nights Jim requested Lena and she came. When Jim left, Lena never returned to this hotel. The reason for her disappearance is not evident to the reader until the close of the story. When Jim comes back, he announces that he and Lena have been writing and he is going to see her soon. Lena’s character begins to show a glimpse into the real Jim and offers a more objective point of view. It is through Lena’s acceptance of Jim, the reader is able to see that Olaf’s Jim may not be completely accurate.

At the end of the story, Jim comes back to the hotel. Olaf’s reaction is the same only he finds the courage to tell Jim there is no room. Only Jim isn’t there for a room, only to visit Olaf. Jim has returned with presents. Six shirts for the six nights he called Lena to come. Olaf realizes that he has misjudged Jim. He was not going to hurt him, it was all a fantasy in his head. Olaf confesses his fears and Jim says this as he leaves, “Daddy-O, you’re a funny little man. I wouldn’t hurt you. I like you. You a good man. You helped me,” (Wright 358).

Initially, Olaf is an unreliable narrator because he misrepresented Jim, the big black good man. If Mr. Jensen had only given the man a chance and put his insecurities to the side, he would have seen

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