When Tod Clifton
abandons the Brotherhood, the narrator rediscovers him selling racist Sambo dolls. The dolls’ writhing is a grotesque play on the stereotype of African sensuality, and the dolls represent the servility of black entertainers for white masters. However, the fact that Clifton, the former protector of the Brotherhood’s ideals, sells the dolls complicates the symbol, making their meaning ambiguous. In addition, Clifton controls the dolls with an invisible string, indicating that he may have more power than meets the eye. The dolls seem to be a rebuke to the good intentions of the Brotherhood, reminding the narrator
that there are many things that exist outside the Brotherhood’s tightly controlled view of the world.