Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 232

Illustration of PDF document

Download The Ways of White Folks Study Guide

Subscribe Now

The Ways of White Folks is American author Langston Hughes's 1934 collection of short stories. The fourteen stories that comprise the collection deal with social issues, primarily racism and race relations.

In the collection's first story, "Cora Unshamed," the protagonist and eponymous character is Cora Jenkins, an African American servant to a white family.

"Slave on the Block" centers on domestic worker Luther, an African American man, and the artistic Anne Carraway, a white woman. Carraway and her husband, self-assured of their own liberal attitude, are oblivious to the bigotry it masks. Hughes drives this point home by noting that "as much as they loved Negroes, Negroes didn't seem to love Michael and Anne."

The story "Home" tells the tale of Roy Williams, an African American jazz musician who has just returned to the United States from an extended European engagement. The story's other major character is New York music teacher Miss Reese.

The principal characters in "Father and Son" are the tyrannical plantation owner Colonel Norwood and his African American son Bert, whom he had with his mistress Coralee Lewis. The relationship between the two is tense, as evidenced by Bert's introduction into the story, in which he addresses his father by his title and surname.

Other characters that appear in the collection's stories include Arcie (in "One Christmas Eve"), Milberry Jones (in "Berry"), and Mrs. E. (in "The Blues I'm Playing").