Ben Summary
Julius Lester

Everything you need to understand or teach Ben by Julius Lester.

  • Ben Summary & Study Guide

Ben Summary

"Ben" is one of Lester's most complicated and challenging stories. It is narrated in the first person by a white Chicago lawyer who, through his father's legal practice, has dealings with Southern slave owners. The narrator, as a young man, abhors slavery and envisions himself doing gallant deeds to free slaves, but he soon discovers his hypocrisy and weakness; he does nothing to help slaves during his travels through slave states. The story develops his deluded confusion about race relations and the vexed subject of slavery by having him fall in love with the daughter of a tobacco plantation owner. He discovers that in order to marry her he must take over the plantation and its two hundred fifty slaves. This tears at him, at least initially.

The narrator's father is furious when he learns that his son may forgo an advantageous marriage just because he does not...

(read more from the Short Guide)

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