Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Burrell, Julie

Subject Headings

Himes, Chester B., 1909-1984, American fiction -- African American authors -- History and criticism, Detective and mystery stories, American -- African American Authors -- History and criticism, Violence in literature -- Social aspects, Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- In literature, long civil rights movement, Chester Himes, Harlem detective cycle, literary left


Long Civil Rights Movement scholars have begun to reconstruct a more accurate representation of the literary left, filling in the gap in scholarship that previously existed between the Harlem Renaissance and the Black Arts Movement. With the aid of the backdrop set up by the "Long Movement" scholars, this study aims to add to the understanding of those authors who lives and works have yet to be fully explored because of the ramifications of the McCarthy era. This discussion focuses on Chester Himes, for his work is as influential as both Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison's, yet Himes has only recently begun to receive the critical acclaim he deserves. Most recent scholarship seems to identify Himes's strongest novels to be If He Hollers Let Him Go (1945) and Lonely Crusade (1947) because of the clear political connections that can be made to Himes's life as an activist. Less has been said about his Harlem Detective Series, and the studies that have been conducted present very little connection to his continued political involvement. I will locate his first-- A Rage in Harlem (1957)--and his final--Blind Man With a Pistol (1969)--novels of the series within the historical framework that Dowd Hall has set up for us in an attempt to add to the literature on this important, yet discounted author. The same political activism that is seen in Himes's early works is mirrored within these two novels as seen through his absurd depictions of violence in Harlem