Although Ron and Denver come from different worlds and are initially very wary of each other, through their developing friendship, they discover that the various assumptions they held about one another couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the two men are far more similar than they are different. Ron and Denver’s story demonstrates how prejudices against other groups of people—even those formed by actual experiences—do not accurately reflect reality and can often be reconciled by human connection.
Both Ron and Denver carry prejudices towards the demographic that the other comes from. Although they will discover these prejudices are wrong—since they do not apply to every person of that group—they originate from real-life experiences, demonstrating the way in which prejudices are often formed by actual pain. For instance, Denver is extremely distrusting of wealthy white people. Throughout his life, such figures exploit, cheat, and attack him. When Denver is a sharecropper, the Man cheats him, holding him in debt-bondage for years. In his teenage years, Denver is attacked and nearly murdered by three white cowboys on horseback who put a noose around his neck for speaking to a white woman. As a homeless man, Denver sees many areas of the city renovated by wealthy white people who seem intent on sweeping away the homeless—seeing them as a blight on the city—forcing them to find new places to sleep and live. As he says, “I always knowed white folks didn’t think much of black folks […] thought we was mainly lazy and not too bright.” Ron’s prejudices are shaped by his limited experiences as well. While managing his gallery, Ron often has trouble with homeless people—most of whom are black—wandering into his store, causing trouble, and even robbing the place. Over time, Ron comes to view such people as “a ragtag army of ants bent on ruining decent people’s picnics.” The general racism of the American South in the 1950s and 1960s undoubtedly also has an effect on his perception of people like Denver. Indeed, the first time that Ron sees Denver, his impression is of a “huge, angry black man,” whom he fears. Both Ron and Denver’s assumptions and prejudices about each other are wrong, since they obviously do not apply to every wealthy white man or every poor black man and thus do not reflect the complexity of reality. Even so, these prejudices have originated from actual experiences, suggesting that it will take an equally real experience to overcome them, rather than a simple mental adjustment.
As Denver and Ron slowly get to know each other, they both realize that many of the things they had assumed about each other and their respective worlds is false, and that each is a far more substantive and honorable person than each had believed. This demonstrates the way in which actual human connection can begin to break down long-held prejudices and begin to reconcile and unify individuals who come from very different backgrounds. Ron learns from Denver not only about modern-slavery, homelessness, and racism, but also that there is a methodology to surviving poverty and a code of honor among homeless people, much more sophisticated than the “ragtag army of ants” mentality he previously assumed. Furthermore, Ron discovers that Denver’s years of hardship and survival on the streets and in prison have given him a “a strong spirit and a deep understanding of what beats in the heart of the downtrodden.” Though uneducated, Denver possesses a practical wisdom greater than anyone Ron has ever known. Rather than merely the “angry black man” Ron once assumed Denver to be, through his friendship he discovers that Denver is wise, insightful into the human condition, and fiercely loyal. Similarly, Denver discovers that not all wealthy white people are greedy and exploitative like the Man. Although Ron is naïve about poverty, he is eager to listen and to learn and is gracious with his time. A pivotal moment for Denver occurs when Ron and Deborah invite him to join them at their vacation ranch home to spend a weekend with them and their cowboy friends. Given his past experience with cowboys, Denver is wary, telling Ron, “I heard cowboys don’t like black folks.” Ron persists and Denver joins them, having a great time and learning what it feels like to be “accepted and loved by a group of white guys on horseback with ropes in their hands. Exactly the kind of people he had feared all his life.” Ron and Denver’s shifting perception of each other and the world that each of them comes from indicates how relationships and human connection can begin to reconcile individuals who’ve spent most of their lives fearing each other.
Denver and Ron accept each other as family and live together after Ron’s wife Deborah’s death, an act that would have seemed unthinkable to either one of them a decade before. However, having built a strong and loving friendship, they each realize that, as human beings, there is more that unites them then sets them apart. Ron and Denver feel the same fear and pain of Debbie’s loss and the same gratitude for the life she has lived. As Denver puts it, “After I met Miss Debbie and Mr. Ron, I worried that I was so different from them that we wadn’t ever gon’ have no kind a’ future. But I found out everybody’s different—the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us.” Denver and Ron’s relationship transcends race and class, revealing to each of them another part of the human experience they never thought they would see, making them the stronger for it. Their story serves as a powerful testament to potential of reconciliation between wildly different people, built on human connection.
Reconciliation Quotes in Same Kind of Different as Me
Lookin back, I figure what them boys done caused me to get a little throwed off in life. And for sure I wadn’t gon’ be offerin to help no white ladies no more.
It was at Starbucks that I learned about twentieth-century slavery. Not the slavery of auction blocks, of young blacks led away in ropes and chains. Instead, it was a slavery of debt-bondage, poverty, ignorance, and exploitation. A slavery in which the Man, of whom Denver’s “Man” was only one among many, held all the cards and dealt them mostly from the bottom of the deck, the way his daddy had taught him, and his granddaddy before that.
The campfires and camaraderie worked magic on Denver as he began to know what it was like to be accepted and loved by a group of white guys on horseback with ropes in their hands. Exactly the kind of people he had feared all his life.
And now that Deborah was gone, I had begun to suspect [Denver] felt like a hanger-on. I didn’t feel that way about him at all. In fact, during her illness and since her death, I had come to consider him my brother.
What kind of man was the Man? For decades, one Man kept sharecroppers barefoot and poor, but let a little colored boy earn a brand-new red Schwinn. Another Man let an old black woman live on his place rent-free long after she’d stopped working in the fields. A third Man kept Denver ignorant and dependent, but provided for him well beyond the time he probably could have done without his labor.
“Mr. Ron, they’re livin better than I ever did when I was livin here. Now you know it was the truth when I told you that bein homeless in Fort Worth was a step up in life for me.”