Albert French’s Billy is an intense work of fiction that simultaneously presents several interlinked conflicts, addressing such issues as racism, class problem, social turmoil, and injustice. The story is a shocking narrative of a 10-year-old African American boy, who tragically kills a white girl and is executed for murder. It underlines the reality of American life as experienced by millions of blacks. This story is based on a real-life story of an 11-year-old boy (Streib 619). The novel aims at young adults emerge as an account of the social values and traditions which might seem unbelievable to some, but in fact, reveals a reality that is not easy to digest.
The first thing that catches a reader’s attention is the detailed description of The Patch, the slum area where all the blacks live. Through vivid description and vernacular language, the black community comes to life.
“set back, might be rockin in a swayin chair….get that sittin porch hollerin done… and the young patch folk are “runnin back and forth up and down them Patch paths, tryin to catch each other or a firefly” (French 80).
As in any other society, this too has many colorful people and their mundane activities, show how restricted their lives and how much they are different from the white people who dominate them. French details how the whites through their color difference constantly manipulate them. Different roles like the sheriff, the doctor and the newspaper editor. There are two separate communities co-existence, one experiencing the social injustice and isolation at the hands of the other.
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