Analysis of Henry Louis Gates Jr's 'What's in a Name?'

1132 Words Jan 29th, 2018 5 Pages
What really is in a name? Apparently, there is a lot. In Henry Louis Gates, Jr.'s story, "What's in a Name," there is a telling story about a young boy learning the powerful pain and humiliation in the racist practices of American society. Gates illustrates how racism can perpetuate prejudice that aims to take away individual identity and put entire groups of people down. Yet, the fact that Skip was willing to never look Mr. Wilson in the yes again shows that Gates himself was not going to just take the racism any longer, but was willing to fight it in his own unique way.
The plot of the story is both simple and complex. The racism Gates experiences is telling and powerful because it is so blatant and yet nonchalant. Gates' character is simply walking down the street with his father. Upon saying hello to one of the white Irish men in the town, Gates is perplexed with the response. The man, Mr. Wilson, responded to Skip's father with "Hello, George," (Gates 131). Gates shows how Skip was confused, because obviously he knew his father's name was not George. However, his father responds with "He calls all colored people George" (Gates 132). This was a shocking revelation to the young character of Skip. He before had believed that Mr. Wilson was not that bad of a guy. Yet, after this small, but symbolically significant incident, Skip "never again looked Mr. Wilson in the eye" (Gates 132). Thus, Gates is showing his realization of…
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