The elevator operator in Richard’s building in Memphis (where he works at the second optometry shop), Shorty is willing to participate in racial prejudice—acting as a caricature of a black man for white entertainment—in order to gain small amounts of change from white elevator-riders. Although Richard criticizes Shorty for this, Shorty says only that he needs the money and doesn’t mind making fun of himself.
Shorty Quotes in Black Boy
The Black Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Shorty or refer to Shorty. 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: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Perennial edition of Black Boy published in 2015.).
Chapter 12 Quotes
How in God’s name can you do that?
I needed a quarter, and I got it.
But a quarter can’t pay you for what he did to you.
. . . My ass is tough and quarters is scarce.
Shorty Character Timeline in Black Boy
The timeline below shows where the character Shorty appears in Black Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...learns about the ways that Memphis black people appease the white people they work for. Shorty, the elevator man in Richard’s building—a squat, comical fellow—often makes himself into a racial caricature... (full context)
...He realizes that he will not be able to be deferential to white authority like Shorty, nor will he survive forever in a “business” context with whites, whose power Richard resents... (full context)