The Souls of Black Folk

by

W.E.B. Du Bois

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The Judge Character Analysis

The Judge is a white man of influence in John Jones’s hometown of Altamaha, Georgia; he’s the father of the “White John.” The Judge employs John Jones’s sister, Jennie, as a maid in his home. When John arrives back in town from the Wells Institute, the Judge allows him to teach at Altamaha’s newly-opened black school, but he orders that the school be closed when he finds out John is teaching a subversive curriculum about equality to the black students. At the end of Chapter 13, after John Jones murders the White John for assaulting Jennie, the Judge forms an angry mob to ambush (and presumably to lynch) Jones. As a wealthy, powerful white man who seemingly has the small town of Altamaha (and particularly the black community) wrapped around his finger, The Judge embodies the legacy of slavery that still exists in late 19th-century America. He also represents the legal and social barriers preventing black people from achieving education or leadership positions during the late 19th century.
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The Judge Character Timeline in The Souls of Black Folk

The timeline below shows where the character The Judge appears in The Souls of Black Folk. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 13: Of the Coming of John
Material vs. Psychological Racism Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
...instead. Meanwhile, his sister, Jennie, goes to work in the kitchen of the local white Judge. (full context)
Slavery vs. Freedom Theme Icon
Material vs. Psychological Racism Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Exclusion vs. Belonging Theme Icon
The Judge also has a son named John, who was a childhood playmate of John Jones. Like... (full context)
Slavery vs. Freedom Theme Icon
Material vs. Psychological Racism Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Exclusion vs. Belonging Theme Icon
John goes to ask the white Judge if he can teach at the town’s new black school, and the Judge tells him... (full context)
Material vs. Psychological Racism Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Exclusion vs. Belonging Theme Icon
...home as well. His family, along with the entire white half of town, is thrilled—the Judge even hopes that his son will become the mayor of Altamaha, then a legislative representative,... (full context)
Slavery vs. Freedom Theme Icon
Material vs. Psychological Racism Theme Icon
Education Theme Icon
Leadership Theme Icon
Exclusion vs. Belonging Theme Icon
As the Judge and the White John talk, neighbors begin to wander by, and the local postmaster comments... (full context)
Slavery vs. Freedom Theme Icon
Material vs. Psychological Racism Theme Icon
Meanwhile, the White John wanders around the house in the wake of the Judge’s sudden departure. He goes out into the field and bitterly reflects that there are no... (full context)
Slavery vs. Freedom Theme Icon
Material vs. Psychological Racism Theme Icon
Exclusion vs. Belonging Theme Icon
Having been ordered by the Judge to close the black school, John Jones begins walking toward home to meet Jennie and... (full context)
Slavery vs. Freedom Theme Icon
Material vs. Psychological Racism Theme Icon
Exclusion vs. Belonging Theme Icon
...shadows become visible. The angry men come sweeping in on horseback, and Jones sees the Judge among them looking old, raggedy, and furious. Jones pities him and wonders if he’s the... (full context)