In Bud, not Buddy, why was Dirty Deed happy to play for Mr.Calloway?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The answer to this question comes at the beginning of Chapter eighteen when the band are driving to Mecosta for a performane and the band are making fun of Mr. Calloway behind his back and teasing each other. Thug suggests to Dirty Deed that the only reason he is in the band is because he is white. Dirty Deed is the only white member of the band, and we are told this is for legal reasons: American law at the time did not allow any negro to own property, so having Dirty Deed in the band allowed Mr. Calloway to retain possession of his Log Cabin. But in response to Thug's taunts, Dirty Deed reveals his reason for putting up with a boss like Mr. Calloway:

Take a look out of the window, baby, there's a depression going on. How many folks you see living like us, Negro or white? Not many. That man may have his faults but he's a struggler, I'm putting my hat in with him.

This reasoning draws attention to the grim setting of the novel - the Depression that plagued America in the 30s. Also, it also highlights the way that this novel explores how this poverty affected both whites and blacks. The presence of Dirty Deed in the band and his reasons for sticking with it reminds us as readers of the white family that comes to Hooperville asking for food - race was no divider when it came to the effects and impacts of the Depression.

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