Three Views on Ku Klux Klan in Literature

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Three essays, three different writers discussing the same subject, three points of view which one is the correct view? Thomas Jefferson’s, “Notes on the State of Virginia”, he reencounters many of the policies he had initiated while working in the Virginia Assembly. He not only talks politics he also talks about race and inferiority between them. Studs Terkel’s, “C. P. Ellis”, is an in depth look into former Ku Klux Klan’s attitude towards everyone else that was not like him, his struggles to his triumphs.

Vincent Parrillo’s, “Causes of Prejudice”, essay is an illustrated interpretation that evolves into six individual sections. Prejudice is defined by each person differently whether it is psychological or sociological. Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States of America from 1801-1809 and the author of the Declaration of Independence. In “Notes on the State of Virginia”, he talks a bit about politics and more about skin color and intellect. He considered whites and natives to be more intellectually compatible and blacks to be inferior both physically and mentally.

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He did acknowledge some physical similarities between blacks and whites but he still belittled them pertaining to imagination, reason, and even beauty. Jefferson was in favor of integrating between natives and whites but if a black intermingled with a white to him it was considered an act against nature. Jefferson went as far as devising a plan to relocate all blacks to the slave coast of Africa. Being a highly respectable man people supported his ideas. In Vincent Parrillo’s theories Jefferson fits best into the cognitive level of prejudice.

Parrillo’s says, “The cognitive level of prejudice encompasses a person’s beliefs and perceptions of a group as threatening or nonthreatening, inferior or equal (e. g. , in terms of intellect, status, or biological composition) . . . ” (385). All of those things Jefferson stated that those were his reasons why he disliked the blacks. Jefferson also falls into Parrillo’s self-justification “ . . . denigrating a person or group to justify maltreatment of them” (387). Jefferson makes clear that he planned to pass a law not allowing blacks carry the mail and his plan to relocate the entire race to the slave coast f Africa. Parrillo’s theories do not only coincide with Jefferson but they also correspond with Studs Terkel. “C. P. Ellis” can be characterized in many of Parrillo’s theories. One would be at the cognitive level just like Jefferson. Ellis joins the KKK and automatically he feels like he is above all other races, “I had to make certain vows and promises. We promised to uphold the purity of the white race . . . ” (401). That was their way of making the things they did sound right to themselves and anyone else that would question their moves.

Ellis’ volatile attitude stemmed from his economic status. It has been seen that aggression and violence increases when going through an economic hardship. Everyday people are working hard trying to make ends meet but then get fired on account of a minority willing to work for a small wage. Of course people start to become agitated and begin to develop bitterness towards the minority that “stole” their job, which then develops into violence. Ellis was not the most educated man and without a decent education he could not get a better job.

He was only able to work jobs at a factory or manual labor jobs, which was the same as the minorities, which meant he had to compete for the position, so he remained poor. Ellis notices that blacks are taking most of the jobs away from him and that makes him really angry because in his eyes he was far superior to them. Ellis fits into Parrillo’s scape-goating, “blaming others for something that is not their fault” (391). Ellis says, “I really began to get bitter. I didn’t know who to blame. I tried to find somebody. I began to blame it on black people.

I had to hate somebody. Hatin’ America is hard to do because you can’t see it to hate it” (400). He was sick and tired and needed someone to blame “a scapegoat” and that was for him, blacks. Ellis explains how he still remembers that his father told him not to associate with blacks, Jews, and Catholics, this is an example of the socialization process. The socialization process, “individuals acquire the values, attitudes, beliefs, and perceptions of their culture or subculture, including religion, nationality, and social class.

Generally the child conforms to the parents’ expectations . . . ” (393). Ellis’ father was the personification of his thoughts and impressions of other people. A child is easily molded by their parents. The things parents tell their children stay with them for a really long time and that is what happed to Ellis. He took into account what his father said and lived by that for a long time. As an adult he began to discover the cracks in his father’s lessons. He began to discover for himself the amazing people that were not from his same race, he began to open his eyes to the world.

Children are like sponges they absorb everything and if the parents practice what they teach then the children will continue to think that they are right. Parents are authority figures and what they say goes. Authoritarian personality is something C. P. Ellis can relate too. Growing up Ellis and his family were poor. Because they were poor Ellis was humiliated to ever been seen with his father because of the way he dressed. He and his father never had an intimate relationship because his father was always working trying to put food on the table and a roof over their heads.

His father was an alcoholic, which was a contributing cause to his father’s misery. His father had many failures in his life and Ellis was there to see them. His father was once turned down by the finance company during the depression. Seeing his fathers downfall and failures made Ellis develop resentment toward his father. This anger he enveloped he would let out on feeble and susceptible minorities such as blacks. All of his aggression was bottled up against his father and leaked out on innocent bystanders.

Thomas Jefferson’s, “Notes on the State of Virginia”, he revisits his many accomplished policies he launched during his Virginia Assembly position. He has an eye for politics but a mouth for demeaning. Studs Terkel’s, “C. P. Ellis”, is an inside look at a white supremacy outlook concerning minorities. Terkel explores the mind of an average Joe turned KKK turned advocate of struggles. Vincent Parrillo’s, “Causes of Prejudice”, is a six-step theory on how to better understand prejudice. Prejudice comes out in many forms the most notable forms are psychological and sociological.

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Three Views on Ku Klux Klan in Literature. (2017, Jan 28). Retrieved from

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