If Beale Street Could Talk Themes & Motifs

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Anti-Black Racism in America

The narrative gives the story, and the lives of its characters, additional layers of meaning by placing everything that happens, everything the characters live through and feel, within the context of anti-black racism in America. There are general references to this experience, as when Fonny and other characters refer to how white people seem determined to keep black people from living full, productive lives no matter what the truths or circumstances of those lives; and there are specific references to this experience, as when Tish and Fonny experience a racism-defined encounter with a white police officer (Bell) who sexually harasses Tish and who, afterwards, seems to make it his business to punish Fonny for both of them standing up to him. In other words, the novel’s consideration of anti-black racism in America plays out on levels that are, as the book and...

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This section contains 2,158 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the If Beale Street Could Talk Study Guide
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