The Cover Of Long Division

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The cover of Long Division, by Kiese Laymon, pictures a rusted, broken chain. This symbol, along with the setting of the book suggests the strong history of slavery in the South. That unfortunate history carries with it the idea of otherness—an idea of being valued and devalued based on skin color – an idea central to Laymon’s story. Long Division shows throughout three time periods that while the African American race progresses, it never arrives at full equality. In each time period — 1964, 1985, and 2013 — the African-American characters find the threat of racial discrimination and violence.
Looking into the book chronologically, Laymon allows 1985 City to travel to 1964 during the heat of segregation. City experienced firsthand the
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Since he is from 1985, it reveals that race relations have progressed positively since.
In 1964, they are hunted and haunted by the Ku Klux Klan, who hope to preserve segregation and stop the activists who have come to Mississippi. He didn’t seem very concerned with the threat the Klan posed. At the time he was actually more concerned with Shalaya liking Evan than anything else.
Well, I know that you can’t travel through time with a girl and save folks from the Klan and not kiss them unless you’re slightly deformed or unless you smell like death. And even then, there’s still gonna be some serious grinding going on. Serious grinding. (136)
This shows, once again, that City, having grown up only twenty years later was one hundred years removed from severity of the situation involving the Klan. He didn’t know to be afraid of it because he had never personally experienced the threat that the group posed.
2013 proves to have progressed, but there is still hopelessness in the air. 2013 City competes in a post-spelling-bee-age competition called “Can You Use That Word in a Sentence.” The book begins with the events leading up to and during this competition. Early in the book, Laymon shows the reader that these characters are up against something much older, much more powerful, and much more disheartening than the group of adolescents they were to compete against. Lavander sarcastically explains this theme:
African Americans are generally a
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