Kicy Motley's Reviews > The Human Stain

The Human Stain by Philip Roth
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Dec 15, 2011

really liked it
Read from December 11 to 15, 2011

I am glad I went into this book not really knowing what it was about. I was completely thrown when it was revealed that the Jewish professor accused of being a racist is actually a black man passing for white. How about that for irony.

Usually I find books without a lot of dialogue kind of annoying, but this one I couldn't put down. It has a nice flow and moved well between the backgrounds of the different characters.

I found Coleman to be a fascinating character.

I believe Coleman decided to "pass" so he could be free. Free to be whoever, good, bad, or indifferent that he wanted to be. As an African-American he would always be placed in a box. Forced to conform to a set of rules laid out for him by society. As a black man, he couldn't be smart. He would be a smart black man. He couldn't be a great author. He would be a great black author. If he was a deadbeat, he would be another lazy black man, rather then just a deadbeat. I think he felt that as long as he was identified with black, he could never be an individual.

In the end, it is this freedom that he worked his whole life to attain, that ended up costing him his freedom lol. If he was a black professor his comments would never have gotten any attention. But once he'd been passing his entire life, keeping this secret, there was no way he could come out and tell the truth. What would people think? The shame of hiding who you are destroyed him.

I also found it interesting that Coleman decided to "pass" as a Jew. Dealing with various persecutions of there own, I would think he would choose any other type of white except Jewish. That I didn't understand. Why did he hold Jew to such a high esteem.

There was one aspect I found disappointing. I felt that there wasn't enough Coleman. This book was ultimately about him right. I understood the significance of Delphine Roux but I didn't think we needed as much of her. I also like Les's character but again we didn't need as much. In the end, I wish we'd gotten to seen what happened when he went to dinner at the Silk's, instead of ending it with Les. I would have loved to have gotten Walt's more brash, militant, view on Coleman's actions.

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