50 pages 1 hour read

Colson Whitehead

Harlem Shuffle

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2021

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Part 3, Chapters 1-5Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 3: “Cool It Baby | 1964”

Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary

Three years later, Ray has moved his family to a better neighborhood. Following the collapse of Duke’s bank, his in-laws have moved three times and faced financial difficulty. At a family meal, Leland and Alma complain about the recent protests and riots in the city. Ray excuses himself from the meal and walks to his store, taking in the signs of destruction around Harlem. Buildings were burned and cars destroyed after a “white cop shot an unarmed black boy three times” (194). Ray spent the night of the riots guarding his store with a baseball bat. Ray thinks ahead to his meeting with Mr. Gibbs, the sales representative from Bella Fontaine, a large furniture retailer; he wants to become the company’s first African American dealer. He worries that the riots will be a problem for Mr. Gibbs.

Ray stays after closing time to work on a newspaper advertisement for the store. Freddie arrives unexpectedly, looking thinner than ever and clutching a leather briefcase to his chest. He spins a long tale about how he was accidently swept up in the protest and how the protest turned into a riot.

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