Cheyenne Sabate English 1301-905 September 19, 2011 Response to “What’s in a Name?” During the mid-1950s, racism was public and seen in many places. In the essay, “What’s in a Name?” Henry Louis Gates Jr. recalls a time in his childhood when he realized that his family was no exception to discrimination. In the essay he describes a time when a man named Mr. Wilson refered to his father as “George,” though that wasn’t his name, and his father didn’t do anything to defend himself. The racist name Mr. Wilson had called his father shocked Gates to the point of losing respect. Henry Louis Gates Jr. showed his loss of respect for Mr. Wilson by never looking him in the eye again. Gates didn’t fully understand the extent of discrmination – his father was well respected for his hard work and most people looked past his race. In the essay, Gates explains a time when he realized that certain people were going to make racist remarks reguardless of
Analysis of Henry Louis Gates Jr's 'What's in a Name?'
1132 WordsJan 29th, 20185 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…