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What is the story "Big Black Good Man" by Richard Wright?

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"Big Black Good Man" is a short story by Richard Wright that offers a snapshot of prejudice based on outward appearance, in this case, toward a large dark-skinned male. The main character, Olaf Jensen, is afraid and distrustful of Jim because he is "too big" and "too black." However, by the end of the story, it is revealed that Jim actually is a good man with honorable intentions.

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Richard Wright, a 20th century African-American author best known for the novels "Native Son" and "Black Boy," published "Big Black Good Man" along with seven other short stories in a collection called "Eight Men." It was written in the 1950s during the African-American Civil Rights Movement, but it was set overseas in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The story is about Olaf Jensen's unfounded fear of a black American sailor named Jim, who stays at the hotel where Olaf works as a night porter. Although Jim eventually demonstrates through his actions that he is a good man, his size and complexion leads Olaf to equate him with a gorilla and to deem him potentially dangerous. Jim does not speak very much in the story, so there is a lot of ambiguity surrounding his attitude toward Olaf and the prostitute Lena, until the end of the story. Wright's narrative allows the reader to examine how fear of the unknown can be bigotry in disguise.

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