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DIARY ENTRY SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
OCTOBER 28, 1959
The book begins as a diary of the white writer, John Howard Griffin. For years the author has been living in Texas and specializing in racial issues. For quite some time now, the author is haunted by a particular idea; what would it be like, if a white man became a Negro in the Deep South. As the book opens, he is deeply disturbed by a report about the rise in suicides among the Negroes. He wants to probe the cause for this and he realizes that he can only do so, if he himself becomes a Negro and personally experiences discrimination based on skin color. But at the same time, he also realizes that the whole idea is very mysterious and frightening.
In this first entry in the autobiographical diary of the author, the readers are given a short but sharp character sketch of the author. The readers learn about his deep concern and sensitivity towards the Negroes at a time of rabid white racism. He wishes to reach out to the Negroes, communicate with them, understand their problems and then reveal it to the white world. He is humble enough to recognize that he knows little of the Negro’s situation, even though he is a specialist in racial issues. Griffin knows that a white man cannot understand the problems that the blacks are facing. This is mainly because of the hostility and the mistrust that exists between both sides. He therefore decides to go ahead with the idea that had been in his mind for a long time, that is, change the color of his skin into black and see, first hand, the kind of lives that the blacks are living. He admits to himself that the idea, though effective, is quite frightening. Nevertheless he decides to go ahead.