The Road to Memphis

by Mildred D. Taylor

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What is the climax in the book "The Road to Memphis"?

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The climax takes place in Chapter 5, titled "Incident in Strawberry." It is the scene where Moe fights back against the Aames brothers that marks the turning point of the novel. The blacks had always been tolerating the whites' blatant racism, which often involed outright abuse (such as in the case of the Aames brothers) and condescension. The chapter starts off with the Stacey driving off to Strawberry to pay his car loans to Jamison. Things escalate when he leaves, and Statler begins harassing Clarence and then Moe.

It is when Statler claims that he might "get lucky with Cassie herself" that Moe's anger "burst forth like a thunderstorm". He then ends up picking up a crowbar and injuring all three of the brothers.

This scene is the climax, as Moe has now been placed into danger, with the rest of the cast determined to save him. It is here that we understand the title of the book as referring to a journey of hope for our cast, catalyzed by Moe. It is an appropriate turning point as now Moe and his friends will have to embark on a journey from Strawberry, a desolate and hopeless place where blacks are oppressed by unequal laws, to go to Memphis, where Solomon Bradley embodies the spirit of a successful black man and represents the hope and future Moe and the other characters strive toward.

While Moe pines for Cassie, she meets Solomon Bradley, a man she is infatuated by and is incredibly drawn to for many reasons (including his high-class breeding, his looks and his eloquent manners). This is also a climax and turning point in their relationship. Despite him defending her honor and having a high chance of going to prison or even being sentenced to death, she falls for another man in the next chapter, showing his efforts to be in vain. However we can point to the scene in Strawberry as the climax because "The Road to Memphis" will begin and usher in a new era of hope and equality for all.

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The climax consists of three events and occurs in Chapter 8. The group is in Memphis and seek help with Solomon Bradley, a successful business and newspaper man. Cassie becomes infatuated with Solomon, but he won't take advantage of her because, even though he's only in his twenties, he has a great deal of experience with women, and Cassie is still young, just on the verge of womanhood. Moe, seeing Cassie's attraction for Solomon, tells her he loves her before he gets on the train. Cassie tells him she only feels close friendship for him, and since he's going to be in Chicago for a long time, a romance between them would never work. The last part of the climax is the death of Clarence. The white hospital refuses to care for him, and their racism and bigotry supports Cassie's belief that the war won't help black people in any way, that it's only a white man's war.

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