War of the Wall Summary

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The War of the Wall is a short story written by Toni Cade Bambara, an African-American writer, teacher, and social activist. The story was first published in 1967 in the collection “Gorilla, My Love” and focuses on the conflict between a group of young boys and a wall built by a white store owner in their community. The story highlights themes of racism, social inequality, and the power of community activism. In this blog post, we will provide a summary of the story, analyze its main themes, and explore its relevance today.

Summary

The War of the Wall is set in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, where a group of young boys plays together in the streets. One day, they notice that a white store owner, who has recently moved into the area, has erected a wall in front of his store. The boys feel that the wall is an insult to their community and decide to take action.

At first, the boys try to jump over the wall, but they are unsuccessful. They then decide to paint the wall with graffiti, writing messages such as “Black is beautiful” and “Down with whitey.” The store owner is furious and threatens to call the police, but the boys are undeterred.

The boys organize a rally to protest the wall, and many members of the community come out to support them. They march to the store, chanting slogans and carrying signs. The store owner is intimidated by the large crowd and agrees to tear down the wall.

The story ends with the boys feeling proud of their achievement and their ability to bring about change in their community.

Themes

The War of the Wall explores several themes, including racism, social inequality, and community activism.

Racism: The story highlights the racial tensions between the African-American community and the white store owner. The boys feel that the wall is a symbol of the store owner’s disrespect for their community and their culture. The graffiti they paint on the wall is a defiant response to this racism.

Social Inequality: The story also highlights the social inequality that exists in the community. The white store owner has the power and resources to build the wall, while the boys and their families have little influence or control over their neighborhood. The boys’ decision to take action against the wall is a way of challenging this inequality and asserting their own power.

Community Activism: The story celebrates the power of community activism. The boys are able to rally support from their neighbors and bring about change in their community through peaceful protest. This theme is especially relevant today, as we see many examples of community activism in response to social and political issues.

Relevance Today

The War of the Wall remains relevant today, as it speaks to issues of racism, social inequality, and the power of community activism that continue to impact our society. In recent years, we have seen a rise in racial tensions, particularly in the United States, where incidents of police brutality against African Americans have sparked protests and calls for change. The story also resonates with the current movement for racial justice, as we see communities coming together to demand an end to systemic racism and inequality.

Additionally, the story highlights the importance of community activism and peaceful protest, which continue to be effective ways of bringing about change. As we face global challenges such as climate change, income inequality, and political polarization, it is important to remember the power of collective action in creating a better future.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Who is Toni Cade Bambara?

Toni Cade Bambara was an African-American writer, teacher, and social activist. She was born in 1939 in New York City and passed away in 1995.

  1. When was The War of the Wall first published?

The War of the Wall was first published in 1967 in the collection “Gorilla, My Love”.

  1. What is the main conflict in The War of the Wall?

The main conflict in the story is between a group of young boys in an African-American community and a white store owner who has built a wall in front of his store, which the boys feel is an insult to their community.

  1. What themes does The War of the Wall explore?

The story explores themes of racism, social inequality, and community activism.

  1. How do the boys in The War of the Wall respond to the wall built by the store owner?

At first, the boys try to jump over the wall, but they are unsuccessful. They then decide to paint the wall with graffiti, writing messages such as “Black is beautiful” and “Down with whitey.”

  1. Does the store owner agree to tear down the wall in The War of the Wall?

Yes, after the boys organize a protest and rally support from their community, the store owner agrees to tear down the wall.

  1. Why is The War of the Wall still relevant today?

The story speaks to issues of racism, social inequality, and community activism that continue to impact our society. It also highlights the importance of collective action and peaceful protest in creating positive change.

  1. What can we learn from The War of the Wall?

The story teaches us about the power of community activism and the importance of standing up to injustice. It also reminds us of the need to work towards greater equality and social justice.

  1. How can we apply the lessons of The War of the Wall to current social issues?

We can apply the lessons of the story by supporting and participating in peaceful protests and community activism, and working towards greater equality and social justice in our communities.

  1. What other works by Toni Cade Bambara are worth reading?

Other works by Toni Cade Bambara include the short story collection “Gorilla, My Love”, the novel “The Salt Eaters”, and the essay collection “The Black Woman”. All of these works explore themes of race, gender, and social justice, and are highly recommended for anyone interested in African-American literature and social activism.

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