Why did the black girl (Connie) tell the guys to beat up Mike? Why does Mike not hate her, or black people for this?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Connie and Mike illustrate opposing reactions to being victimized by others.

Connie harbors a deep bitterness toward white people.  She has been a victim in a prejudicial society all her life, and has just been assaulted by a group of white men. Mike helps her, and there is a glimmer of hope that she might be able to rise above her preconceived ideas and see him as an individual when she thanks him in the car. As soon as she is back with her group, however, it is easy to revert back to mob mentality and conform to peer pressure, so she tells her friends to "kill the white bastard" (Chapter 2).

Mike, on the other hand, though he has just been brutally beaten by a gang of black youths, refuses to succumb to stereotyping and bitterness.  He knows that the gang that attacked him does not represent all black people, and is able to see people as individuals from perspectives other than his own. He is thus even able to understand the motivation behind Connie's betrayal of him, and actually sympathize with her.

Read the study guide:
That Was Then, This Is Now

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