50 pages 1 hour read

Colson Whitehead

Harlem Shuffle

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2021

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Important Quotes

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“Ray Carney, in his years, had a handle on the variations.”


(Part 1, Chapter 1, Page 9)

Ray grew up in a segregated world. He has experienced racism so frequently and so often that these experiences are rarely novel or original. Instead, they are variations on the same old themes. Ray compares his experiences of racism to the old tunes being played in new ways by new people. Now that he has a grasp on the standards, he can interpret and deal with the ramifications better.

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“A landlord who leased to Negro families.”


(Part 1, Chapter 2, Page 26)

In times of trouble, Ray wanders the city and imagines himself living in New York’s most lavish apartments. However, the subtle implication of his wildest fantasies is that he remains a member of the tenant class. Ray cannot envision a world in which he is a property owner or a landlord, as he has internalized the racism of the world. In Ray’s experience, African American people must rely on benevolent white people who allow non-whites into their building. Even in his wildest fantasies and most outlandish moments of escapism, racism is as virulent and as prevalent as in the real world.

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“Carney was only slightly bent when it came to being crooked, in practice and ambition.”


(Part 1, Chapter 3, Page 34)

Ray’s self-identity is fraught with self-delusion. He is keen to see himself as an honest, upstanding citizen, but he is well-aware that he commits crimes.

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