What was Hattie afraid the townspeople might do?

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Hattie is afraid that the townspeople are going to lynch the white man when he lands on Mars in his rocket. Mars is now entirely inhabited by black people, and they have not seen a white person for twenty years. Her husband, Willie, especially concerns her because his father was lynched, hanged from a tree by white people, and his mother was shot by whites too. Willie says that he wants to segregate their society, forcing whites to feel powerless—they can shine shoes and work the fields and sit in the backs of buses and movie theaters, just like black people had to do on Earth—and he gets to work commanding volunteers to paint signs. When the old, white man arrives, the traveler explains that the people on Earth have, essentially, destroyed everything through war, and there are only, maybe, five hundred thousand people left on the planet. Nothing remains of Willie's hometown, including the hill with the tree from which his father was hanged or the washing shack where his mother was murdered. Willie realizes, now, that the people on Earth, including the white people, have no home, just like Willie and his family had no place to feel safe before, and he realizes—much to Hattie's joy—that this can provide an opportunity for everyone to start over.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 5, 2019
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