‘Backwacking, A Plea To The Senator’ by Ralph Ellison

Ellison, Ralph 1977

Backwacking, A Plea To The Senator by Ralph Ellison, 1977

The magic trick:

Critiquing a point of view by assuming that voice in the first person

This isn’t my favorite story. The outrage, the comedy, and the outrage again, strike one note relentlessly so that its six pages feel like 60. It’s a good magic trick, though, no doubt about that. When attacking your enemy’s point of view, you can write as that enemy and mock their ideas by adopting their voice as your own. And that’s quite a trick on Ellison’s part.

The selection:

But Senator, wherever this “BACKWACKING” comes from it calls for some ruthless INVESTIGATING and drastic CONTROL! Because not only is the n—– conducting himself in this UNGODLY jiggsawing fashion I have described to you, but there is OVERPOWERING evidence that he is doing too much for his own or anybody elses good, and I say so for the following reasons. I am informed that when he and his woman reach the climax of this radical new way of sinning they get blasted by one of the darndest feelings that has even been known to hit the likes of Man!

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