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In Alas, Babylon, Randy’s discussion with Malachi reveals Randy’s attitudes towards...

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l17m | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 8, 2011 at 10:55 PM via web

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In Alas, Babylon, Randy’s discussion with Malachi reveals Randy’s attitudes towards black people. What are they?

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Kristen Lentz | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted July 25, 2012 at 12:18 AM (Answer #1)

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In Alas, Babylon, Randy Bragg has a very close working relationship with his neighbors, the Henry family.  They live on the old, renovated slave quarters at the edge of his property.  Missou comes in regularly to do Randy's housework before the Day, and post-Day, Randy includes the Henry family in the big steak cook-out, his news and plans, and helps them with supplies when needed.  By all accounts, Randy has shown himself to be an open-minded man in his fair and inclusive treatment of his black neighbors. 

However, in chapter eleven when the men plan the ambush to catch the highwaymen, Malachai interrupts Randy's cleverly devised plan to use the grocery truck and suggests himself as the driver. 

"Randy was furious, but he held his voice down.  'Let's not get everything screwed up now. Get in, Malachai" (266). 

Randy's automatic dismissal of Malachai's idea reveals a remnant of racist thinking in Randy's character:  he does not value Malachai as being able to contribute to the plan and discredits his idea as wasting time.  Malachai stands his ground, however, and explains himself:

"It's your face. It's white.  they're more likely to tackle a black face than a white face.  They see my face they say, 'Huh, here's something soft and probably with no gun'" (266).

Even then, Randy struggle with whether to trust Malachai to this important task; he doubts his ability to be quick-thinking enough to convince the highwaymen.  Only after the Admiral encourages Randy to go along with Malachai's plan, does Randy relent.  In the aftermath and following Malachi's death, Randy reevaluates his old prejudiced reasoning and honors Malachi's sacrifice.

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