58 pages 1 hour read

Chester Himes

If He Hollers Let Him Go

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1945

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Chapters 17-19Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 17 Summary

Bob—now drunk and angry—arrives back at Madge’s hotel and sneaks up to her room. He knocks on the door and insists that Madge let him in. Madge refuses several times and tells him to leave, threatening to call the police. Bob starts hammering on the door, and she finally lets him in. Madge says he cannot stay because they will both get in trouble, but instead of leaving, Bob asks her to have a drink. 

Bob scrutinizes Madge’s appearance in her worn bathrobe and slippers. Rather than looking beautiful and seductive as she seemed in the light of day at the shipyard, she looks older, harder, and tired. Despite this realization, Bob moves in on her and traps her against the door. He tries to pin her down to have sex with her, but Madge continues to struggle. She gets an arm free and hits Bob in the face as they roll from the bed to the floor. Bob pins her down flat on her back. Madge suddenly stops struggling and says, “I dare you to, nigger. Just go ‘head. I’ll get you lynched right here in California” (137). Bob tells her to go to hell. Madge bursts out crying, asking herself why she let him in in the first place.

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