Hundred Dollar Bill

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"But that's a hundred-dollar bill.  I take that an' try to change it and the white folks'll want to know my whole life's history." She snorted.  "They want to know where I was born, where I work, and where I been  for the last six months, and when I tell 'em they still gonna think I stole it.  Ain't you got nothing smaller?" -Mary (Ellison, 325)

This quote seems of little importance to the book as a whole but to black people it was their life.  A black person having a hundred dollar bill in their hand would be looked at weird.  White people are the ones that have the great jobs and make the big bucks.  A black person with that kind of money is thought to have stolen the money, when in reality (in this case, anyway) they didn't.  It is sad how the society will look at Mary when she spends the money.  Will she be taken to jail? Laughed at? Ridiculed?

She also tells the narrator two paragraphs later that she is "going to keep part of it for [her]self and the rest [she] is going to save for [him]." (Ellison, 325).

She will always be there for the narrator even after he moves out and doesn't tell her where he is going.  That is a great quality in a person and very hard to find. 




Andrew Adams said:

It's odd to think that this type of behavior existed not all that long ago. While the book didn't actually happen, the situations described are definitely possible, and similar situations probably did happen.

I think Mary is such a great person in order to show that the Brotherhood was going to be something that didn't turn out all that great. He has to leave the kindness of one of the only people to show him kindness.

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