What is the theme of "A Walk in the Night"?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This story, covering the events of one night, shows with brutal and relentless honesty how corruption begets corruption.  Beginning with the injustice perpetrated against Michael at work, each small unfair act leads to larger and larger problems.  The discrimination shown to Michael at work spirals into the impulsive killing of Doughty.  Instead of being shamed by his drunken action, Michael is able to use the racist attitudes of society to justify his actions:

"[he has] no right living here with us Coloreds."

Michael, who began the story being heckled as "a good boy" ends up in a gang.  Willieboy, an innocent who runs scared from a dead body, ends up getting shot.  Willie's flashbacks when he is on the run demonstrate that his mother - a victim of abuse at his father's hands - turns her son into a victim by beating him.  Gaining self-respect in this corrupt world comes from turning on your neighbor, as John Abrahams demonstrates by turning in and describing Willieboy.  The message overall is negative; La Guma is demonstrating the inevitable corruption in this racist society.

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