The Narrows is a fictional tale written in 1953 by Ann Petry. The story unfolds as Link, a brilliant young African American man, who is currently working as a bartender for lack of better opportunity — although he is a graduate from Dartmouth College. One night he saves a white woman from an attack, and afterward they drink together. He discovers in their conversation that her name is Carmilo. They become romantically acquainted, in violation of the rigid social codes that barred their relationship with possibly deadly consequences. He does not know however, that she has given him a fake name because she is actually married, wealthy, and only escaped to his side of town to escape the monotony of her secure, white washed life. The story was written at a time when Black Americans were routinely, and violently, terrorized and marginalized with Jim Crow laws and institutionalized racism, especially in the Southern regions of the country. Petry’s torrid and heart breaking novel shed light on the treacherous way that racism and social injustice impedes on the personal and social lives of people. Controversially, the topic of interracial relationships, still a relevant topic in Black social life today, forced readers to face their own inner truths and socialized mentality when it comes to matters of miscegenation at a time when the nation was submerged in racial turmoil. It symbolizes African American literature’s ability to have its unique story told through the lens of a Black character who is living a life that is not different than many African Americans of the time. —Olympia Scott, AALBC
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