Compare and contrast the characters of Ray and Jake in Claude McKay's Home to Harlem. What virtues and what deficiencies do both possess?Why are they such a good friends? To what degree have their...

Compare and contrast the characters of Ray and Jake in Claude McKay's Home to Harlem. What virtues and what deficiencies do both possess?

Why are they such a good friends? To what degree have their lives been influenced by a racist society? Does the ending of the novel suggest any hope for them?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Perhaps, the answer to this question lies in the wandering nature of both Ray and Jake.  One ends up leaving Harlem with the woman he loves, believing to a certain extent, that the challenges for people of color in Harlem, are localized only there.  The hope of leaving for Chicago seems to be an act in desperate hope for a new life in a world where the effect of racism might not be as present.  McKay might be making a statement about racism and its effect on people of color.  There is an element of escaping and hoping to find a new and better world.  Ray is extremely bright and well versed.  However, it is evident that something in the world causes him to not feel comfortable in it, causing him to wander and sojourn from one job and location to another.  In Ray, we see how a society predicated upon discrimination can cause individuals to feel unwelcome and uninvited, a sensation that settles into the soul.  There is little reason other than this to surmise as to why Ray does not feel welcome in a social setting. Perhaps, their friendship is the result of feeling relatively unwelcome as people of color in  early 20th century America.

McKay did believe in a hopeful vision of the world.  There is little to suggest that he felt that racism is something that cannot be overcome, but there is also enough to indicate that it must be confronted, and in doing this, challenge will be evident, and certainly was in both Ray and Jake.

Read the study guide:
Home to Harlem

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question