The Struggle In John Steinbeck's 'The Quarters'

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The final segment of Jane’s narrative ‘The Quarters’ concerns Blacks who transgress the rules of old - written and unwritten. Jane in her eighties moves back to the quarters from Samson’s house. Jane describes the community in this portion of her narrative. It consists of people searching for dignity even if they must settle for the vicarious esteem derived from the exploits of Black athletes. It is here that Jane spots Jimmy and identifies him as their ‘messiah’. Jimmy goes away to be educated, and returns as an active participant in the Civil Rights movement. He is inspired by Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and seeks to vanquish racial injustice through peaceful protests. When Jimmy returns to the quarters three years later the Civil Rights revolution erupts throughout the country and even threatens the established order in Samson. Jane is aware of the passive resistance led by Martin Luther King Jr. who was the most charismatic of all the organizational heads. His remarkable oratorical skills, exceptional modesty and inspiring courage gave him a special legitimacy among Blacks and other Americans of good will. She talks about Alabama and the plight of the Black school children at Little Rock,…show more content…
She, with this ultimate act of self-assertion leaves Samson hollow and powerless. In the words of Frank Shelton, she becomes Gaines’s ‘profoundest portrayal of the moral strength a legally dispossessed people can develop in a pastoral setting’ (Estes 144). The people on the plantation are moved by the example of the young man and the old woman. They are not to be stopped, not even after they are informed that Jimmy has been murdered, and the White man orders them to return to the quarters. They continue to move towards the town, old and young moving together to create
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