58 pages 1 hour read

Chester Himes

If He Hollers Let Him Go

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1945

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Chapters 1-3Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary

Chapter 1 begins with the novel’s narrator and protagonist, Robert “Bob” Jones, summarizing three dreams he is having. Each dream involves a tense encounter with white men. In one dream, a man gives Bob a dog, but Bob cannot pay for it; in the second dream, white cops interrogate black workers about the alleged murder of their white co-worker; and in the third dream, Bob asks a couple of white men for a job, but they laugh at him and refuse because he does not own any tools. 

Bob awakens and does not immediately remember his dreams, instead thinking that “there was no meaning to anything” (6). The intense race trouble in Los Angeles since the beginning of World War II and the bombing of Pearl Harbor has caused Bob to feel overwhelming fear when he wakes up every morning. Though Bob managed to get a job as a leaderman—also known as a subforeman—at the Atlas Shipyard, he has observed Japanese people and black people being refused decent work in L.A. since Pearl Harbor. But before moving to L.A. from Ohio in the fall of 1941, Bob was not aware of being scared.

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