Man Child And The Promised Land
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The Will to Survive
In the book, “Manchild in the Promised Land,” Claude Brown makes an incredible transformation from a drug-dealing ringleader in one of the most impoverished places in America during the 1940s and 1950s to become a successful, educated young man entering law school. This transformation made him one of the very few in his family and in Harlem to get out of the street life. It is difficult to pin point the change in Claude Browns life that separated him from the others. No single event changed Browns life and made him choose a new path. It was a combination of influences such as environment, intelligence, family or lack of, and the influence of people and their actions. It is difficult to contrast him with other characters from the book because we only have the mental dialoged of Brown.
To determine what factors Brown had to overcome to become a success, we must look at what was against him. He was a black man in a white dominant society. The only factor that could have made Brown being black any worse was if he grew up in the South. He shows us this through his parents they moved from the South to Harlem to escape its prejudices. Like many black families Browns parents wanted to be the first Northern urban generation of Negros. He showed the kind of Southern black mentality his parents had with the jobs they took and the way they reacted to his quitting of what they called good paying jobs.
Browns family was very poor and this drove him to crime. Overcoming poverty is difficult but not impossible. Browns family accepted poverty and that made it nearly impossible to escape poverty. You doom yourself by accepting poverty because you lose hope. Browns early life of crime was to get some money so he did not feel poor. To show the neighborhood that hope was not lost in him.
Brown had to always be in control. He never did anything to lose his control or be dominated by a substance or another person. He demonstrated his lack of respect in the earliest parts of his childhood when he would steal from cash registers without a friend to help him, a skill though to be impossible. At times Brown did give up his control and he regretted it. Such as the time Brown used heroin. This desire to be a dominant figure is the biggest factor in Browns life because it kept him away from the plagues that brought many of his friends down and was corrupting Harlem. He called heroin the great plague because it totally destroyed a human and made them totally dependent on it. Brown was able to escape all the plagues of his environment and he was intelligent enough to realize he could escape his environment too.
The biggest problem Brown faced in Harlem was crime. This was Browns first problem as well as many of his friends. The book opens with Brown shot after attempting to steal sheets. Brown was lucky or perhaps smart enough no to get charged with a felony. He saw what he called a “sheet” could do to a person. Committing a crime that