Review of Playground of Hostility (Howard Gordon)

Although slightly uneven, this debut collection affectingly depicts black life in upstate New York over the past four decades. In these nine stories, racism and violence constantly threaten the family and the community at large. “The Playground of Hostility,” set in 1954, deepens these themes through its dramatization of voluntary segregation among children during recess and of a boy’s Cold War neurosis. In “Man Walks Son, Self,” a boy named Junior chronicles nightly walks with his father while his mother lies dying, her illness the source of rumors that literally invade the home and follow father and son on their nocturnal strolls. Junior recounts the ways in which both parents teach him to bear up under the shadow of racist innuendo. The title story examines the estrangement between its narrator, who is secretly dying of cancer, and his older brother, Cameron, who harbors within his soul the cancer of hatred. Gordon, whose work has been published in Essence and other periodicals, is better at choosing themes than he is at delineating them in a consistent tone; at his best he gives us new ways of looking at the lingering problems of povertyand race relations. (Apr.)

The African in Me: Stories Howard Gordon, Author George Braziller,

Playground of Hostility, a short story written by Howard Gordon, portrays the discrimination between Whites and African Americans in the 50s in terms of using public facilities. The situation in this story took an example of segregation in the hospital and school. How the african american felt the segregation in educational facilities and hospitals became the author point of view. This essay will provide my view on the situation within told in the story of Playground of Hostility.


At the very beginning, it started with an experience of African American named Marcus in the hospitals. Marcus felt the discrimination in terms of the service given by the hospitals whenever the patient is black people or African American, The sorrow experience felt by Marcus when his father died in the hospitals.

“But you couldn’t trust anyone in the fifties”


Historical background of the situation is the principle of ‘separate but equal’ facilities. There was a segregationof the races in particular between whites and colored people in schools, restaurants, movie theaters, health care, libraries, restrooms, and cemeteries.


Playground of Hostility political agenda is to support the equality. So this story focus to portray the situation felt by African American in the school and hospitals. How the children of African American felt the psychological effect, inferiority, and negative self image in school. Even, if a white children misbehaved and got a punishment, he/she will be sent to the back which some African American or the colored was sitting down, and then some of whites giggled to that situation. This punishments meant a humiliation toward the colored as they pretended as the second class of race.


The other strong message from the story is ‘something dangerous would happen to the colored if they started fighting with the white kids. Their parents warned them and told that they would be in danger if it happened. Also, in the story portrays a discrimination in the public press when a white killed a colored people, the news would not come to public. There was a sensored and the whites still would like to legitimate as the dominant and the higher class of race.


Playground of Hostility merely draws the readers attention that colored people in particular African Americans became really oppressed and felt in justice. The message of this story triggers the spirit of equality among  races. Playground of Hostility contextually frames the African American struggle of searching for justice,equality, and political rights.


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