45 pages 1 hour read

Isabel Wilkerson

The Warmth Of Other Suns

Nonfiction | Book | Adult | Published in 2010

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Part 4, Chapters 18-21

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Part 4: “The Kinder Mistress”

Part 4, Chapter 18 Summary: “To Bend in Strange Winds”

Life in the North, culturally, often ran counter to what many migrants had experienced in the South:

In the receiving cities of the North and West, the newcomers […] had to worry about the acceptance or rejection not only from whites they encountered but from colored people who arrived ahead of them, who could at times be the most sneeringly judgmental of all (287).

Black migrants had to prove that they were not going to bring down the image of African-Americans already established in Northern cities. Assimilation was an important step for many black migrants, who had to learn new behavioral codes and unwritten rules not to seem overly rustic. Some Black newspapers even ran articles of “do’s and don’ts” (291) instructing those new to the North on how best to fit in.

George Swanson Starling, a railroad porter, had a first-hand view of migration psychology: “It seemed to George that the moment they stepped on the train going north, [migrants] became different people, started acting like what they imagined the people up north to be” (294).

Robert Joseph Pershing Foster, who had finally begun to set up house, bought a Cadillac to show that he was thriving.