(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Minty Alley is the story of Haynes, a young black educated middle-class man who observes and becomes involved in the daily life of the “ordinary people” of 2 Minty Alley, a barrack yard in Trinidad. Life in the yard is presented from the perspective of Haynes, who is himself transformed in the process of observing and participating in that life.

Beset by financial problems and wanting to escape his sheltered, “monotonous,” and “empty” life, Haynes decides, after the death of his overprotective mother, to take up lodging among the working people at 2 Minty Alley. Encouraged by the affable landlady, Mrs. Rouse, he ignores his servant’s advice about not living among those who are “not [his] class of people.” Shortly thereafter, he begins to regret his decision, until a crack in a board in his room affords him the opportunity to play the voyeur and eavesdrop on the sexual activities of the inhabitants of the yard. Changing his mind, he decides to stay so he can witness the “terrific human drama” unfolding at 2 Minty Alley.

Haynes’s observer status is quickly changed into one of participant as he becomes increasingly involved in the lives of the yard occupants. In fact, everyone begins to confide in him, and he is forced to use all of his skills and resources to keep the peace among them. Even though from time to time he announces that he will leave, something always comes up to prolong his stay. Consequently, he is drawn into every conflict.

His involvement begins when...

(The entire section is 627 words.)