The story “Black Man and White Women in Dark Green Rowboat”, written by Russell Banks, is about an interracial relationship on the brink of disaster. The story opens up on an extremely hot day in August at a trailer park that is right next to a lake with a variety of people who live there. I was not immediately aware that the black man and the white woman were the focus of the story, but those characters gradually emerged and that’s when things started to get interesting. It becomes very obvious that white women want to control everything in the relationship and doesn’t view the black man as an equal partner.
Before they meet at the beach, the white women walks up in her bikini holding her towel, fashion magazine, and tanning lotion with her blonde hair swinging side to side. I automatically start to view her as an egotistical person. When the white women encounters the black man at the beach, she helps him push the boat to the water, but instead of helping him push the boat all the way from shore, she hops in it before her feet had even got wet. He was left to not only push the boat himself, rolling his pant legs up, but also pushing her in it as well.
While he is rowing the boat he realizes he didn’t bring a hat and he is sweating. He wraps his shirt around his head and she explains to him that he looks like a sheik and a galley slave. To me this shows how she thinks of him as her own romanticized slave that she can control. She even reassures him that she was not kidding by saying “no really. Honestly”. (68). The man continues to row and she says she’s starting to put on weight and then she tells the man that she told her mother about them and their situation, but she never looked at him when she was talking to him.
Her eyes were closed and directed toward the sun. She isn’t treating him like she cares; she is just caring on with her sun bathing. Then she tells him that she is going to have an abortion that afternoon. She does this without even asking the man if that’s what he wants to do. Even after he expresses hatred towards the situation and basically tells her he wants her to keep the baby she doesn’t listen. She just insists that everything will return to normal when it’s done.
He asks her what happened and she brushes the question off and explains her mother is ok with him. You can tell he cares about her mother’s opinion of him as he wants the reassurance that her mother actually likes him. The woman explains her mother just thinks she is fragile from depression. Honestly I feel like the women had had other abortions and just didn’t want to be honest with the man. After some time had passed, the woman asks him how long he was going to fish. He tells her about an hour and offers to row her to a swimming spot if she would rather swim.
She turns down the offer and makes appoint to mention the fact that she has to be back in time to make it to her abortion later that afternoon; again making it known she is making this decision on her own. The women starts looking through her magazine while the man continued for a few more casts then he finally gave up and said, “No sense fishing when the fish ain’t feeding. The whole point is catching fish, right? ” (71). This is the man’s turning point. I think he realized that the relationship he was in was kind of like fishing, there was no point in him being with her if she didn’t want to move on to the next level.
Before rowing back into shore, he said he wished he could just leave here there. She gets very nervous when he said that and tells him they have to go back. That’s when the man decided that it was time to move on with his life and he said, “You mean, you have to go back. ” (71). He rows back and all the people are carrying on like they were before except now things are changing for them. The White woman goes with her towel and magazine to have her abortion and back to living with her mother, while the Black man goes on his own separate way while watching the women leave.