In a small Southern town, a white man murders a black man, then throws his body in the weeds. With this act of violencewhich is loosely based on the notorious 1955 killing of Emmett TillJames Baldwin launches an unsparing and at times agonizing probe of the wounds of race. For where once a white storekeeper could have shot a "boy" like Richard Henry with impunity, times have changed. And centuries of brutality and fear, patronage and contempt, are about to erupt in a moment of truth as devastating as a shotgun blast.
In his award-winning play, Baldwin turns a murder and its aftermath into an inquest in which even the most well-intentioned whites are implicatedand in which even a killer receives his share of compassion.
About the Author
James Baldwin (1924–1987) was a novelist, essayist, playwright, poet, and social critic. His first novel, Go Tell It on the Mountain, appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews, and his essay collections Notes of a Native Son and The Fire Next Time were bestsellers that made him an influential figure in the growing civil rights movement. Baldwin spent much of his life in France, where he moved to escape the racism and homophobia of the United States. He died in France in 1987, a year after being made a Commander of the French Legion of Honor.
Date of Birth:August 2, 1924
Date of Death:December 1, 1987
Place of Birth:New York, New York
Place of Death:St. Paul de Vence, France
Education:DeWitt Clinton High School, New York City
What People are Saying About This
"A play with fires of fury in its belly, tears of anguish in its eyes, a roar of protest in its throat." The New York Times
"Explosive, eloquent, honest.... To read it is devastating." San Francisco Chronicle
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Inspired by the case of Emmett Till, this is a dramatic look at southern small-town race relations at the mid-century point. As a play, though, it doesn't capture the usual power of Baldwin's prose. I've no doubt that this would be a powerful work when set to the stage, but I don't think a reading can do it justice, particularly with the many characters involved. I might go back to this if I ever get together a class on works related to the Till case, which I've considered doing before, but for now, I'm not sure I'd recommend it on to other readers.
This play is soo.. good. As an actress it has taught me a lot and also reminded me to not forget about the past. This play was captivating and had great scenes it all felt so very real when performed up on the stage or in the class room.
I have never read a play so captivating, and believe me I have read a lot. I knew Baldwin was a genius, but he takes intelligence and literature to a whole new level. EVERYONE should read this, because it teaches a lot about life.