The Other Foot

by

Ray Bradbury

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The Rope Symbol Analysis

The Rope Symbol Icon

The rope that Willie Johnson ties into a noose in preparation for the white man’s arrival symbolizes Willie’s vengeful desire for authority and control over the white man. Tied as a noose, the rope is a racially-charged symbol that points to a long, dark history of racism in America. Willie’s own father was hung by racist white men in the American South, so by greeting this white visitor with a rope—noose already tied—Willie makes his vengeful intentions clear. Prior to the white man’s arrival, Willie visits every house in town and tells the residents to bring guns and rope so that the visitor will have a proper “welcoming committee.” In this way, the rope is an assertion of authority and power meant to immediately show the white man that he is unwanted on Mars and will be subjected to the same inhumane treatment that the Martians received on Earth. In a show of power and aggression, Willie holds a noose for the entirety of the white man’s speech. Because Willie is the unofficial leader of the gathered mob, everyone watches him during and after the speech to gauge his reaction. Upon this realization of the suffering endured by Earth people during their atomic war, he drops the rope from his hands, signaling to the crowd that they must not attack the white man and spurring others to rush to remove all of their newly-installed artifacts of segregation. For Willie, dropping the rope represents letting go of his bitter longing for revenge and allows a new era of peace and acceptance to unfold.

The Rope Quotes in The Other Foot

The The Other Foot quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Rope. 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:
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon & Schuster edition of The Other Foot published in 2012.
The Other Foot Quotes

“You ain’t going to lynch him?”

“Lynch him?” Everyone laughed. Mr. Brown slapped his knee. “Why, bless you, child, no! We’re going to shake his hand. Ain’t we, everyone?”

Related Characters: Hattie Johnson (speaker), Mr. Brown (speaker), The White Man
Related Symbols: The Rope
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Rope Symbol Timeline in The Other Foot

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Rope appears in The Other Foot. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Other Foot
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
Humility and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
...it.” Pulling up to their house, Willie commands her to find his guns and some rope so that they can “do this right.” Hattie doesn’t move. Crying, “Oh, Willie,” she sits... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
...white man. Before getting back into the car, Willie fetches paint, a stencil, and a rope, which he quickly ties into a noose. (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
...says that he went to every house and told people to bring guns, paint, and rope, and to “be ready.” Gleefully, he says, “And here we all are, the welcoming committee,... (full context)
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
...cars, Hattie feels anxiety and fear churning through her. People from other cars tote their ropes and guns, yelling, “Hey, Willie, look!” When the car comes to a halt in a... (full context)
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
Holding the rope tied into a noose, Willie addresses the crowd and asks if they’re ready. Half of... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
...motionless. Looking into the crowd, the white man “did not see the guns and the ropes.” (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
Willie tenses and his fingers tighten around his rope. The old man repeats, “We’ve been fools.” He says that none of the cities can... (full context)
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
...a pressure of a distant storm.” Many people watch Willie, who is still holding the rope. Hattie holds her husband’s arm and waits. She wants to extract the hate from everyone... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
Humility and Forgiveness Theme Icon
With the rope still in his hands, Willie thinks about the Earth that he knew, “the green Earth... (full context)
Revenge and Empathy Theme Icon
The Inhumanity of Racism Theme Icon
Humility and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The Individual vs. The Group Theme Icon
Willie loosens his fingers, and the rope drops to the ground. He tells the white man that Earth people won’t have to... (full context)