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The Beautiful Struggle Summary & Study Guide

Ta-Nehisi Coates
This Study Guide consists of approximately 45 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Beautiful Struggle.
This section contains 477 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Beautiful Struggle Summary & Study Guide Description

The Beautiful Struggle Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion on The Beautiful Struggle by Ta-Nehisi Coates.

As young school boys Ta-Nehisi and his older brother Big Bill knew to adhere to the strict ways of their father, Paul Coates, and they didn’t agree with his driving determination that his son would rise above the means streets of West Baltimore. Big Bill was more vulnerable than Ta-Nehisi to the lure of the dark side that awaited them beyond the threshold of the family home. Big Bill eventually dabbled in drugs, got a young girl pregnant, was a terrible student, hung with gang members and procured means of protection in the form of a firearm.

Ta-Nehisi was happy to stay away from the streets and play video games to his heart’s desire. As he matured, hip-hop music was a phenomenon that was emerging across the nation and for once was a movement that originated in the streets of impoverished black neighborhoods. He began to relate to the angst that he picked up in the lyrical phrases that pointed to the struggles of the black people against racism and the challenge of living in a white world. Ta-Nehisi’s mother and father recognized early on that he was a gifted child and had a great trajectory to the future if he would just take it.

Paul Coates did not have an easy life. He was beaten and mistreated by an alcoholic father and suffered from the lack of self-esteem that results from the child of a dysfunctional family. His father fathered so many children that he lost count of how many children he had. Some of his children were the result of his raping his own daughters. Paul had sisters and brothers who were also his cousins.

Paul was a Vietnam veteran and a former member of the Black Panthers, joining up in early days of the militant organization. Many years later when he had parted ways with the Panthers and was a grown made with seven children, he still held on to some of the anger and bitterness that was part of the Panther mantra. Although he dropped out of school as a youngster, he later pursued a higher education so that he could earn a decent living for his family. He pursued employment at Howard University so that his children could attend tuition-free.

Neither Ta-Nehisi nor Big Bill did well in school and both exhibited behavioral problems, but their parents stayed on them to do better and wouldn’t give up on them. Even after being accepted into a gifted program at an advanced high school, Ta-Nehisi found it hard to focus on his studies. Both boys ultimately were accepted at Howard University fulfilling Paul’s dream. When Ta-Nehisi started his college career, Big Bill was in his last year. It occurred to Ta-Nehisi that they had both survived West Baltimore and had emerged as young men with bright futures.

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This section contains 477 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Beautiful Struggle Study Guide
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