Going to Meet the Man


James Baldwin

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Otis is a Black child and one of Jesse’s friends when he was eight years old. Before the lynching, in a flashback, a young Jesse worries that he has not seen Otis for a couple mornings and wishes that he could ask Otis what was happening since “Otis knew everything.” Otis does not directly appear in the story, but Jesse’s care and respect for him as a child shows how white people are not born racist but taught to be so.

Otis Quotes in Going to Meet the Man

The Going to Meet the Man quotes below are all either spoken by Otis or refer to Otis. 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:
Sexuality, Pleasure, and Racial Violence Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Going to Meet the Man published in 1995.
Going to Meet the Man Quotes

Their friends, in other cars, stretched up the road as far as he could see; other cars had joined them; there were cars behind them. They were singing. The sun seemed, suddenly, very hot, and he was, at once very happy and a little afraid. He did not quite understand what was happening, and he did not know what to ask—he had no one to ask. He had grown accustomed, for the solution of such mysteries, to go to Otis. He felt that Otis knew everything. But he could not ask Otis about this.

Related Characters: Jesse, Otis
Related Symbols: Singing
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:
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Going to Meet the Man PDF

Otis Character Timeline in Going to Meet the Man

The timeline below shows where the character Otis appears in Going to Meet the Man. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Going to Meet the Man
Learning Racism Theme Icon
...way, but he instead becomes more animated, whistling and mocking the singers. Jesse thinks about Otis, a Black friend his age with whom he plays. Suddenly the thought of Otis makes... (full context)
Learning Racism Theme Icon
Jesse says that he didn’t see Otis this morning, though he’s not sure why he says it. Jesse’s mother responds that he... (full context)
Learning Racism Theme Icon
Jesse has questions he wants to ask, such as “Will Otis be there?” but he doesn’t ask them because, in an odd way, he feels he... (full context)