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It is hard to remain oblivious to the backdrop of discrimination and prejudice that is reflected so strongly in this short story. Let us remember that this short story was actually re-published as the intial chapter of Ellison's most famous work, Invisible Man, which explores in depth the social consequences of a society constructed around the belief that segregation between blacks and whites is vital and necessary. It is interesting that two years after this novel emerged into a society fraught with black-white tension, the Supreme Court issued Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas, overturning Plessy v.Ferguson (1896), which also declared that the policy of racial tolerance being "separate but equal" was fundamentally problematic. This ruling pointed towards the facts of segregation and how it resulted in massive inequalities of resources and opportunities. The short story, and its later appearance in this novel, therefore emerged into a context where the current status quo of race relations was already at stretching point and the profound shortcomings of the policy of segregation were clear to everyone. The Civil Rights movement would come to develop such arguments and protest in order to provoke lasting change.
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