Jim Crow and Nation in American Short Stories

Subject: Literature
Pages: 2
Words: 459
Reading time:
2 min

In the literary piece called “Of the Two Johns,” the author presents Jim Craw’s system of regulation through schools. Since African-American John strives to open a school to educate his community members, one may assume that he wants to make their lives better. He faces rejection and racial segregation in the curriculum as it could be observed in special waiting places and cafes for “colored” people. Even though after the American Civil War, which freed the Negro from slavery, the federal government took steps to ensure the rights of this population, the society was still racially segregated. In this case, the imagined political community is different from the real community as it cannot be based on the daily communication of the person-to-person of its participants. Instead, its participants retain a mental image of their similarity in their minds.

In “A Rose for Emily,” the author also shows how racial segregation affects the society, which cannot endorse relations of a white woman from the aristocratic family with the Yankee. Most importantly, Emily cannot allow herself to live with a person from the other social class as she, evidently, poisoned him with arsenic and kept his body inside the house for ten years. Instead of being happy with the beloved one, Emily and the society she lives in creating an imagined community with certain actors and behavior, where the entrance of new members seems to be impossible. The conditions for African-Americans and Northerners were consistently inferior and underfunded compared to the stipulated white Americans.

The distinction between nations in the given literary works seem to be based on unity and belongingness. While Anderson consider nationalism as a process of imaginary integration, through which everyone can feel a sense of oneness with others, Emily and John acts as vivid examples of such an approach towards nations. John feels oneness with other African-Americans and tries to help them to realize their rights through education; he, at the same time, aware of the unity of all people regardless of race. Emily is deprived of the feeling of oneness with her community, and she seemingly punishes herself for the relationships with a person who do not belong to her surrounding via isolation.

Even though “A Rose for Emily” and “Of the Two Johns” depict different people and events, they have such common themes as racial segregation and the impact of modernization in the US, the view of which through the lenses of imagined political communities allows understanding them in an in-depth manner.