Arc of Justice

Arc of Justice

by

Kevin Boyle

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Henry Sweet Character Analysis

Henry Sweet is Ossian and Otis Sweet’s younger brother. Although he is nine years younger and was still a young child when Ossian went north for school, Henry grew up idolizing his oldest brother. He attended the same college, Wilberforce University, and in his young adulthood, he cultivates a personal image styled on Ossian, including the same moustache and glasses. Henry, like Ossian, represents the talented tenth ideology, although he became involved with civil rights advocacy earlier than his brother. On the nights of September 8 and 9, 1925, Henry joins Ossian, Gladys, Otis Sweet, John Latting, William Davis, Joe Mack, Norris Murray, Hewitt Watson, Charles Washington, and Leonard Morse to defend the house on Garland Avenue. His natural confidence and sense of dignity make him unafraid to admit to both handling and firing a gun on the night of the shooting in an effort at self-defense, although he stops short of admitting to hitting either Eric Houghberg or Leon Breiner. This admission causes Wayne County Prosecutor Robert Toms to single him out for the first retrial in early 1926. But thanks in part to the able defense provided by Clarence Darrow, the jury acquits Henry. In the aftermath of the trials, Henry becomes a rising star in Detroit’s Black community, becoming president of the NAACP’s Michigan chapter in the late 1930s. But he dies prematurely of tuberculosis soon afterwards.

Henry Sweet Quotes in Arc of Justice

The Arc of Justice quotes below are all either spoken by Henry Sweet or refer to Henry Sweet. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
).
Chapter 10 Quotes

“Why deny that the greatest asset that the State has in this case is prejudice and the greatest handicap that we have on this side of the table is prejudice […] I thought this case was fraught with nothing but disastrous things, and apart from the testimony, when I viewed here the sinister figure of prejudice, sitting before you twelve men in a dispensary of justice, but as I sat here this morning, and I saw an attempt made to arouse that prejudice, in order to becloud the issue here, so that you twelve men would not decide this case upon the testimony…I was amazed to think that a public prosecutor should go to the burial place of Leon Breiner and drag his helpless body before you in order that you might send Henry Sweet to jail because Leon Breiner is dead and Henry Sweet is black instead of white.”

Related Characters: Thomas Chawke (speaker), Henry Sweet, Arthur Garfield Hays, Leon Breiner
Related Symbols: Houses
Page Number: 329
Explanation and Analysis:
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Henry Sweet Character Timeline in Arc of Justice

The timeline below shows where the character Henry Sweet appears in Arc of Justice. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Where Death Waits
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...must defend his house, violently if necessary. He calls on his brothers Otis Sweet and Henry Sweet, and his friends Edward Carter, Julian Perry, William Davis, and John Latting for help. (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
...the 8th assisted by their chauffeur Joe Mack, a handyman named Norris Murray, and Otis, Henry, and Latting. Soon a policeman named Inspector McPherson knocks on the door to introduce himself.... (full context)
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
Ossian distributes weapons among the seven men in the house: Otis, Henry, Davis, Latting, Mack, Murray, and himself. Neither Julian Perry nor Dr. Edward Carter came—and Carter... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
...friend Edna overheard a white woman threatening violence on the streetcar that morning. Ossian calls Henry and Lessing in from the front porch, admonishing them to avoid provoking the white neighbors.... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
In the kitchen, Henry helps Gladys prepare dinner. Henry possesses more charm than his aloof, formal brother Ossian. Nevertheless,... (full context)
Chapter 5: White Houses
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
...His brother Otis moved to Detroit and established a dental practice, while the much younger Henry completed his studies at Wilberforce University in nearby Ohio. Otis, who is less driven than... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...people asserting the “rights of men,” so be it. He gathers his compatriots: Gladys, Otis, Henry and his friend John Latting, Julian Perry, Dr. Carter, William Davis, Joe Mack and Norris... (full context)
Chapter 6: The Letter of Your Law
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
Henry also shows no hint of contrition for the night’s events, admitting that he picked up... (full context)
Chapter 9: Prejudice
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
...of the shooting. He describes stones pelting the house and opening the front door for Henry and Davis only to see a seething, surging sea of humanity in the street. The... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
...four days of the trial, Ossian fends off Toms’ aggressive cross-examination. Hays fails to prevent Henry’s admission on the night of the shooting to firing a weapon from entering evidence. The... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...defendants but have split seven to five on the question of whether to convict Ossian, Henry, and Leonard Morse. Murphy orders them to resume deliberations the following morning as Gladys—the only... (full context)
Chapter 10: Judgement Day
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...team or when Robert Toms announces his plan to retry the men separately, starting with Henry. Jury selection will begin on April 1, 1926. (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Henry Sweet’s slightly delayed second trial begins on Monday April 19th. Prosecutor Toms has recently announced... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Self-Defense, Race, and Ownership Theme Icon
...next week. Toms’s opening statement outlines his plan to build up a circumstantial case against Henry. If Toms expects Darrow to put off his opening statement until after the prosecution rests,... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...But he urges the jurors to fight this instinct as they consider the story of Henry, a “good [college] boy” and Ossian, a man who started with nothing and made himself... (full context)
Epilogue: Requiescam
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...challenge of the restrictive covenants in Washington D.C. fails its Supreme Court challenge shortly after Henry Sweet’s acquittal. Social and economic forces, rather than legal ones, conspire to further solidify the... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
For Ossian and Gladys, tragedy ruins the news of Henry’s acquittal and the subsequent dropping of charges against the remaining defendants. Iva and Gladys are... (full context)
Prejudice, Segregation, and Society Theme Icon
Justice and Civil Rights Theme Icon
The American Dream Theme Icon
Progress and Social Change Theme Icon
...in his own accomplishments and his faith in “the American way of life.” In contrast, Henry’s star rises, allowing him to become president of the Michigan NAACP conference before he, too,... (full context)