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Additional info for The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros (A Lively Learning Guide by Shmoop)
A. 4 Signiﬁcantly, when Jim tells Arvay about his aﬀection for Joe, Arvay, a “Daughter of the South,” understands: “Joe is your pet, I’ll bound you” (653). Hurston then elaborates in a passage that echoes much of her earlier essay “The ‘Pet Negro’ System”: Arvay sympathized and understood. Every Southern white man has his pet Negro. His Negro is always ﬁne, honest, faithful to him unto death, and most remarkable. Indeed, no other Negro on earth is ﬁtten to hold him a light, and few white people.
Yet, we should not get so caught up in this paternalist’s worldview that we miss the unrest, dissatisfaction, and anger brewing among the workers. The Bozo story reveals a measure of class-consciousness and indeed class resentment that should perhaps make Jim, ostensibly an astute observer of folk culture, at least a bit uncomfortable. ” Jim’s joking dismissal of the story may indicate that he misses the story’s potentially troubling implications for his own way of life. A similar myopia characterizes Jim and Arvay’s response to another instance in which the men express their dissatisfaction with their working conditions and class position, an instance which should signal to Jim that things are not as simple as they had seemed in Citrabelle and Sawley.
The experience of the war only ampliﬁed the reform spirit and desire for self-determination that had been gaining force in the 930s, partially because of the New Deal. After the war, many African Americans exhibited a refreshed, robust interest in politics and voting rights, and they demonstrated an independence that threatened the racial logic of the paternalist system (Goldﬁeld 45, Burton 30–3). The rise of the business elite, who were less invested in traditional racial mores than the still-inﬂuential planter class was, increased opportunities for African Americans to achieve and articulate that independence.
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