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It’s the end of the world as we know it

Posted in WEB DuBois on September 21, 2011 by catho89

Whoisbenconner‘s idea about the breaking of social barriers brought me to the scene when Jim and Julia meet for the first time, and made me consider their contrasting point’s of view of one another.

“He heard a sharp cry, and saw a living form leaning wildly out an upper window. He gasped. The human voice sounded in his ears like the voice of God” (259). Jim’s initial reaction to hearing Julia’s voice has nothing to do with her sex or her race. Her “human voice” rang like ” the voice of God.” Unencumbered by the social norms of the society he operates within, Jim’s humanity shines through when he hears another human being in need.

However, Julia’s reaction to Jim is more along the lines of what I expected.

“They stared a moment in silence. She has not noticed before that he was a Negro. He had not thought of her as white…Yesterday he thought with bitterness, she would scarcely look at him twice. He would have been dirt beneath her silken feet. She stared at him. Of all the sorts of men she pictured as coming to her rescue she had not dreamed of one like him. Not that he was not human, but he dwelt in a world so far from hers, so infinitely far, that he seldom even entered her thought” (259). Unlike Jim, Julia’s “stare”  immediately notices Jim’s race. And even though she recognizes that he is human, like herself, she can barely acknowledge his existence because “he seldom even entered her thought.”

This brings me to my question: Which is worse, to be regarded as less human because of the color of your skin, or to be so undervalued as another human being that others won’t even acknowledge your existence?