It goes without saying that the 1st sentence of a novel is very important. The book begins with these words “I wasn’t there” The narrator immediately warns thereaders that he didn’t go to the trial. He claims that it’s due to the fact that he knows what the verdict would be. He is aware of the conclusions of the jury. He knows it’s hopeless.
But as theopening sentence of the novel, it also describes Grant’s state of mind not only in this passage but in the whole story: he distances himself from the rest of the blacks and tries to show that he isdifferent from those who have been to the trial. He is part of this ethnic group but at the same time he wishes to show that he is different. And indeed he is different. It may be because he is a teacherwhereas most of the other blacks toil in plantations. Grant managed to study and has an intellectual job. In a way, he is not like the others. In the whole book, he is described as different at severallevels (religion for instance).
His narration here is interesting to analyse. His style is simple contrary to the lawyer’s emphatic speech. There are some very short sentences (l. 59), sometimeswithout verbs (l. 71). He sometimes simply reports the sentences uttered by the judge in a very neutral way, without any feelings. He just describes the facts and doesn’t express or suggest anyemotions (we must bear in mind that he is absent). This creates a cold atmosphere // It conveys an impression of coldness and seems to forecast the fact that he has no hope for the future.
II. A trial inthe South, in the 40s:
We must remember the context of the story Segregation and the Jim Crow Laws: Black people used to be separated from the whites in every aspect of their daily life(examples: transportation, schools, restaurants…). It is the well-known “separate but equal” and this extract proves the sentence was obviously wrong. The blacks and whites were clearly separated but they...