Last Reviewed on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 475
Mr. Ryder is first introduced as a man who is planning to give a ball for his social group.
Mr. Ryder might aptly be called the dean of the Blue Veins. The original Blue Veins were a little society of colored persons organized in a certain Northern city shortly after the war. Its purpose was to establish and maintain correct social standards among a people whose social condition presented almost unlimited room for improvement.
Mr. Ryder hopes to marry a widow, Mrs. Molly Dixon, who is even better educated and lighter skinned than he, believing that their union will not only connect him with a woman he loves but will also permit him to continue in his desire to become accepted by white society. This is, in fact, the goal of the "Blue Vein Society": to mobilize upward, in their view, finding acceptance by whites because it would be a "backward step" to maintain a place only with darker-skinned people. He plans to propose to Mrs. Dixon at this ball, which he will throw in her honor. Mr. Ryder says,
"I have no race prejudice, [...] but we people of mixed blood are ground between the upper and the nether millstone. Our fate lies between absorption by the white race and extinction in the black. The one doesn’t want us yet, but may take us in time. The other would welcome us, but it would be for us a backward step. 'With malice towards none, with charity for all,' we must do the best we can for ourselves and those who are to follow us. Self-preservation is the first law of nature."
Mr. Ryder feels strongly about advancing himself and people like him, for the betterment of the entire community. He believes that he has an obligation and...
(The entire section contains 475 words.)
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