Chester Himes' Blind Man With a Pistol
Chester Himes discovered in his mythical Harlem a correlative for urban black life and in the episode of the blind man with a pistol a final metaphor for the violence against them. Himes advocated organized violence.
Two major themes dominate Himes' work.
First, he was concerned with the way inequality affected the lives of blacks in the United States.
Second, he attempted to articulate a thesis of the ways in which blacks should respond to that inequality.
Himes' Harlem novels were never true detective genre pieces.
The earlier novels fulfilled few traditional expectations and the later novels withdrew further from preconceived notions of the detective story.
The significance of the novels is their progressive movement toward a concentration on Harlem as symbol.
Himes' used the detective genre to view the lives of Harlem blacks through individuals who by race were a part of it but who by livelihood were separated from it, the detectives Coffin Ed Johnson and Grave Digger Jones.
Critics often confuse a Naturalistic writer's credo with his technique and mistake his intention to describe things the way they are to him as an indication his narrative will provide uncritical portrayal for its own sake.
Himes' novels demonstrate how every detail of Naturalistic writing can make an assertion.
These details add up to Himes's assertion of the true nature not just of Harlem but the entire American culture of which black society is inextricably a part.
Richard Wright was a contemporary of Himes in whose works race and racism are also potent factors and who also shared the Naturalistic view dominant in Himes' work.
In Wright's novels, the power of whites to affect the lives of blacks is clear and ever present.
As with Himes, the police in Wright's novels are also depicted as corrupt.
Wright's work also parallels Himes' in hi...