Home to Harlem

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“Home to Harlem” is the story of two young black men, Jake and Ray,
who attempt to make a living while enjoying all the joys of Harlem during
the height of the Harlem Renaissance.McKay’s novel clearly shows that the
Renaissance was more than just an intellectual and artistic movement that
grew up in Harlem during the 1910s and 1920s.With his two diverse
characters, McKay shows there were many different elements creating the
Harlem Renaissance, from the less-educated immigrant such as Jake, who
lives mainly for pleasure and self-gratification, to the intellectual Ray,
who dreams of being a writer.He is not as hedonistic as Jake, and he is
torn between the white man’s world, where he does not fit in, and the
Harlem world, where he does not quite fit in either.Ray epitomizes many
blacks of the time, who were trying to better themselves and rise up above
their circumstances, while Jake epitomizes many other blacks, who simply
lived for the moment, and enjoyed sex, jazz, and food and drink.Normally,
the impression today is that most people living in Harlem during the
Renaissance were like Ray, and attempting to learn, grow, and make their
lives better.McKay wanted to show the other side of Harlem – the people
who were not interested in the intellectual rebirth of their neighborhood.
They were only interested in the nightlife, the cabarets, and the opposite
sex.There were two different worlds in Harlem, and McKay neatly explores
For all his lack of education, Jake may see life more realistically
than Ray ever will.As Ray is about to leave, he speaks about their
differences, and his lack of education.He says, “And I mighta helped mah
li’l sister to get edjucated, too (she must be a li’l woman, now), and she
would be nice-speaking like you, sweet brown, good enough foh you to hitch
up with.Then we could all settle down and make money like edjucated