The Man Who Saw the Flood Short Summary

In Richard Wright’s “The Man Who Saw the Flood” the ruinous flood-losses confronting a hapless household of sharecrop farmers reveal the fortunes that force the liberated but still nescient and adulterate inkinesss to go indebted to and therefore re-enslaved by the same Whites from whom they received freedom. Wright’s resigned yet resolute supporters show that even excavate hopes can drive people to baronial doggedness in the face of a black destiny.This subject is reinforced and developed through the dynamic and symbolic scene of the narrative. The most outstanding relation of puting to theme in this narrative is the desolation of the flood-devastated land itself.

The “stark fields” environing the family’s “mudcaked cabin” are wholly devastated. “Every tree. blade of grass. and isolated stick had its flood grade: caky. xanthous clay … checking thinly here and at that place in spider-web manner. ” The clay. a motive repeated clip after clip in this narrative. s an entrapping and smothering force- similar to the smothering debt suffered by the hapless sharecrop farmers. Ef we keeps on like this tha white man’ll ain us body n psyche. ‘” plaints Tom. the hardworking male parent of the household.

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The white man- an about diabolic figure who is alluded to hold power over his debtors’ really souls is every bit sultry as the clay that has destroyed about everything the household owned. Images of decease and entombment besides abound- farther accent of the deplorable destiny of this household. Their cabin looks “as though its shade was standing beside it. and indoors. the shortss of the chest of drawers “ [ bulge ] like a bloated corpse” while the mattress of the bed is “like a elephantine coffin forged of clay. ”

In such a despoiled environment there can be no hope or ground for continuing- yet someway the household finds the motive and strength to flex themselves to the monumental undertaking of reconstructing. Their strength. jumping from natural reservoirs of human resilience and adaptability emphasizes the aristocracy of man’s battle against nature. as opposed to the development of fellow human existences emphasized by the counter character of Burgess. he white landholder.The scene of “The Man Who Saw the Flood” besides continually alludes to the impression of destiny.

Although the narrative begins on an wellbeing and hopeful note: “At last the inundation Waterss had receded. ” clay covers the land “as far as they could see-” the smothering stranglehold of sharecropping servitude stretches into the endless hereafter. “‘There was a route erlong here somewheres. ‘” Tom remarks. yet “there was no route now. ” Whatever vision of the hereafter he held before the inundation has been washed off like the route.The hereafter is non merely unsure now- it is nonexistent. All that exists is the backbreaking work of Reconstruction.

Like the route. the stairss taking up to the cabin have disappeared wholly. Gradual lifting is impossible. so Tom physically lifts his married woman and girl up to the porch merely as he must utilize his strength to reconstruct their lives. As Burgess arrives to take Tom to town to speak over his predicament. the mystical image of “a bunch of stars [ hanging ] in the east” further reveals the function of destiny in this narrative.The astrological deductions of the stars hanging in the way from which the new twenty-four hours arrives emphasize Burgess’ function in the destiny of the household.

It is he who carves a new way for the household as Tom and Burgess “disappear over the crest of the boggy hill-” a way that likely leads merely farther into debt and servitude. There are several dry reversals of archetypical subjects in this narrative that besides contribute to its significance.A inundation. like the Deluge of Noah is frequently used symbolically as a cleansing force- yet the inundation in this narrative brings merely mud and desolation. roping the household. like their cabin. into a “depression” surrounded by still “slimy” clay. Despite this reversal. reverberations of the Noah original still look: “Over all hung a first-day unfamiliarity. ” like a universe created anew- merely this is non a universe of cleanliness and artlessness. it is a universe of decease and labor.

The narrative besides takes topographic point in spring. with the “gusty spring wind” and “high. bluish [ sky ] . full of white clouds” looking reassuring and symbolic of metempsychosis yet distant. The air current suddenly disappears as dark falls and the white adult male attacks. evertheless.The ancient original of black versus white is besides reversed-it is the hapless downtrodden inkinesss who are the supporters in this narrative and their inkiness is emphasized- they are non ‘a black household. ’ they are “a black male parent. a black female parent. and a black kid.  It is the white Burgess who is the adversary in the narrative. While exposing an outward frontage of understanding. he heartlessly refuses to take down the family’s debt. and takes advantage of the incapacitated Tom by conveying him farther into economic bondage.

Yet white H2O and white calcium hydroxide are indispensable tools for the family’s endurance. While these white objects bring hope and aid to the household. ironically. it is the white adult male who oppresses them and drags them deeper into servitude. This sarcasm reveals a paradox inherent in the sharecropping system: while it is the Whites who are now dependent on the black’s paid labour. the inkinesss are still oppressed by and in debt to the white landholders.

The family’s trust on the white tools emphasizes their servitude to the Whites.Despite the apparently unsurmountable obstructions confronting the household. they continue to keep some hope for the hereafter. Since the scene of the narrative emphasizes the devastation of everything the household owns and knows. it is even more singular that they continue to keep out some hope. “‘It coulda been worse. says Tom’s married woman May. with about forced optimism- merely as a shelf is discovered that holds a trace of civilisation: a battalion of lucifers which will let the household to make fire. one of the most of import innovations of world.

Similarly ools such as an axe and plough are found buried in the mud- possibly the really tools that they can utilize to draw themselves out of their abysmal destiny. Additional little victories such as clean ( albeit white ) H2O are won through Tom’s difficult work. “The pump was stiff. Tom threw his weight on the taper and carried it up and down…” Tom’s physical effort is emphasized. connoting the huge sum of work that will be required to better their situation- yet his little successes seem to suggest of larger 1s to come.

The household besides retains one indispensable ownership: their cow Pat.At the start of the narrative. this is their lone plus. and its lowing and the ting of its cowbell go motives that seem symbolic of hope. While ab initio merely reassuring. Pat’s presence becomes lonelier and more blue as dark falls- alternatively of the usual tinkling of her cowbell. “Pat lowed yearningly into the thickener twilight. ” As dark falls the symbols of the family’s hope evaporate: the air current Michigan. the clear sky becomes dark. and Burgess comes to take Tom off to “talk over how you can pay [ your debt ] back-” in world. to convey Tom farther into debt.

The family’s true deficiency of any footing for hope is what makes their doggedness so powerful. Although they areoppressed. enslaved by debt. destitute and about helpless. they maintain an accepting attitude toward their predicament. Possibly Wright is proposing that it is the doggedness of world that will let it to raise itself from its current province of racism. struggle and adulteration.The scene of “The Man Who Saw the Flood” emphasizes the black destiny of the household while contrasting this to their hope. It may look that the story’s decision implies an even further descent into servitude. ut the lame yet perennial reverberations of hope elevate the household.

Although the decision may look to mean a dashing of hopes. the family’s doggedness seems to thin the hurting of their predicament.Get downing from nil in life is non easy. But in “The Man Who Saw the Flood. Tom. May. and Sal support and goad each other to win through their relationships. Now everybody rich or hapless. black or white. is in the same quandary after a annihilating inundation. The community is reduced to its lowest and most basic footings ; endurance is now the precedence.

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