Describe Mr. Ryder's personality?social issues/pyscho/emotional

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lnorton eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mr. Ryder is a sophisticated, learned, and seems very focused on appearances and social standing. His "informal" social group of "blue bloods" is made up of African Americans with lighter skin (and made them closer to the cultural ideal of White) and greater means than the other Blacks in the area. His social standing seems to be of great importance to him. All of this seems to imply that Ryder is a shallow, close-minded, and prejudiced man. This view, however, is complicated by the actions Ryder takes at the end of the story. He chooses to acknowledge the "wife of his youth" -- a woman he was wed to in a slave marriage (not usually something done by choice). This woman is poor, older, very dark-skinned, and unlearned/unsophisticated. His very association with her could threaten his social standing. By acknowledging her, he is ceasing to hide from his past. This "past" is both his own specific experience and also the overall cultural experience of his race; rather than striving toward the White, he accepts the Black and learns not to assign it negative characteristics.

howieheim | Student

Mr. Ryder

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The Wife of His Youth

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