58 pages 1 hour read

Chester Himes

If He Hollers Let Him Go

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1945

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Chapters 4-7Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 4 Summary

Chapter 4 begins a little later the same day. Bob asks around the ship for a tacker to help with a quick project, but all the white men refuse to help Bob. Instead, someone suggests he ask Madge Perkins to do it. Bob approaches her to ask for help, and it takes a moment before he realizes it is the same “peroxide blonde” (28) he encountered earlier. He asks for her help anyway, and she responds, “I ain’t gonna work with no nigger!” (29). Bob instinctively replies, “Screw you then, you cracker bitch!” (29). Soon after this encounter, Bob gets called to the department superintendent’s office and demoted from leaderman to working as a mechanic because of his behavior. Bob is enraged and Mac, the superintendent, insists that since Bob is an intelligent young man and was entrusted with a position of authority, he should have more respect for women and set a better example for the other “colored boys” (30). Bob points out that Madge spat a racial slur at him first, but Mac completely evades addressing this part of the situation altogether, continually insisting that Bob should not have lost his temper. When Bob protests again, Mac threatens to fire him altogether, which would result in Bob losing his job deferment and having to enlist in the military.

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