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58 pages 1 hour read

Chester Himes

If He Hollers Let Him Go

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1945

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Chapters 13-16Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 13 Summary

Still feeling bolstered by his friends’ support, Bob goes to talk to the union steward, who gives Bob arbitrary excuses for why he cannot help him regain his position as leaderman. Bob gets angry, and in his rage, he decides to go confront Madge himself. Though he is still depressed about Alice’s ultimatum, Bob knows he cannot follow her advice and apologize to Madge. Instead, he decides he is going to confront her and ask: “[W]hat the hell she meant by saying she wouldn’t work with a nigger, where did she get that stuff calling [him] a nigger, anyway?” (110). If Madge does not like it, he decides, he will kick her in the teeth. If it means losing Alice, then so be it. 

But when Bob finds Madge on the deck below, he ends up having a strange conversation with Don, an elderly white mechanic who witnessed his altercation with Madge, instead. Don apologizes to Bob about the incident, saying he had no idea it would all result in Bob getting demoted. When Madge notices Bob, she abruptly jumps up and goes into her usual act of feigning terror at the sight of him. “Get a load of this,” Bob says to Don, and Bob observes Don studying him “with that sharp speculating curiosity of white men watching Negroes’ reactions to white women” (111).

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