Accepting the Future
“[...] there are places in this country where a coloured man, to use your words for it, is simply a human being like everybody else.”(94)
John Ball’s novel, In the Heat of the Night features a unique character named Virgil Tibbs. Virgil significantly contributes to the novel’s plot, but is only a flat character because his views remain the same from beginning to end. Though he is quiet and respectful, Virgil’s mere presence in the small southern town of Wells, Carolina leads to many changes that shape the novel and influences the characters in it. Virgil serves as a sharp contrast to another character in the book, Jess the mechanic. Unlike Jess, who is muddled by: injustice, segregation, and racism, Tibbs stands for: freedom, acceptance, and equality. Virgil is a police officer from Pasadena, California. This high class job disproves the stereotype that coloured people are not competent of achieving anything but menial jobs that don’t require an education. Virgil Tibbs embodies the concept that coloured people are capable of doing anything a white person can do, for there is no dominant race.
Inside, In the Heat of the Night, Virgil personifies the Negro community and epitomizes the evolution of their rights. Jess the mechanic, Reverend Whiteburn, and Virgil are all similar in more ways than one. The fact that they are all coloured links them in a way they can each relate to because they all know what it is like to be discriminated against for their race. Jess works as a mechanic, he is saving money to move to the west like Virgil because “[Jess wants] to get out of [Wells].” (50) He mentions this while talking to Virgil and authorizes him not to tell anybody. Jess doesn’t want anyone to know about his future endeavours because he doesn’t want anyone or anything to stop him, for he is trapped by the oppressive racism present in Wells and wants to escape. Virgil shines a light on the oppressive racism in his own way after...