Dreams In Chester Himes's The Meanest Cop In The World

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How Dreams Affect Reality
In the works of Chester Himes there is an underlying theme of dreaming. Throughout his various stories Himes uses dreams to function as a retreat for his characters. In his short story “The Meanest Cop in the World”, Himes is able to concoct an entire story that is descriptive and lifelike, which the readers just assume is real. However, when the curtain is pulled back at the end and Himes tells the readers that the entire thing is just a dream the readers are shocked. Dreams have a very specific function in Himes’ stories as fantasies to keep the prisoner’s minds occupied. The dreams give the readers an insight into the minds of the characters that allows the readers to connect with characters they would otherwise
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Jack, the main character, is flirting with a girl named Violet and they he is falling in love with her. Even in this story the readers can start to tell it is a dream because Himes leaves hints such as the odd sense of time in the story. At the end of the story Himes reveals that the entire story is just a dream by saying that the person who was dreaming awoke to his number being called by a prison guard. The dream has similar purpose to the other stories, to be a respite from prison life, but in this story, it is a fantasy that does not have the harsh negative effects shown in some of the other stories. These dreams are the fantasies that people in prison are dreaming up, so when analyzing it on a psychological level there is some reason why they are in prison in the first place. They obviously did something wrong and so these fantasy lives are what they could have had if they had not screwed up and gotten into prison. Even in the dreams themselves the people are lonely as we can see in “The meanest Cop in the World” when Himes says, “and then she looked into Jack’s eyes and knew … that Jack was only lonely” (Himes 209). The guys loneliness is even prevalent in his fantasy dreams. Going back to the first story “On Dreams and Reality” the main character is unhappy when he gets out because of the fantasy he has in which he is a good person who was not in jail. When he returns to the world as a convict, people will not hire him and people look down on him and the reality that he will not have the same chance at a good life that everyone else has driven him to be reckless and eventually get
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