In Chapter 13, Ellison gives a detailed catalogue of the belongings of the elderly couple being evicted: What do these individual items signify?

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In Chapter 13, after having gone out in the bitter cold and enjoyed yams as he had when a child, the narrator walks with his head down and eyes closed in order to avoid the gray smoke--a figurative gesture, as well. Thus, he nearly stumbles over an evicted elderly couple's belongings that have been brought into the street by two men acting on behalf of the landlord:

It was startling:  The crowd watching silently, the two white men lugging the chair and trying to dodge the blows and the old woman's face streaming with angry tears as she thrashed at them with her fists....Something, a sense of foreboding, filled me, a quick sense of uncleanliness.

The narrator takes another look at what initially he thought was trash. This time, however, he notices the articles of their private lives that have been exposed to the street and all that pass.  He sees

  1. a battered chest of drawers, which has long held their clothes, carrying with it a history of their youth, middle age, and the older years.

(The entire section contains 636 words.)

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