Prejudice and our blind eye towards prejudice within our society are evident factors in the story "On the Sidewalk Bleeding" by Evan Hunter. The main character, Andy, because of his gang membership, is pre judged based on his jacket and not for who he actually is. As a society, we do not notice the injustice within our culture. Prejudice, an underlying and unseen inequality made the difference between life and death for Andy. Andy could have been saved numerous times from after he was stabbed but the reaction he faced from the people who could have saved him was a heart breaking experience for the reader.
Firstly, Andy's inadequacy to see his own identity disappear proved to be fatal for him. If Andy had realised that he was no longer "Andy" he may have left the gang and this would have saved his life. Andy was a suspected to prejudice because of his gang membership.
"Even in his pain, there had been some sort of pride in knowing he was a Royal. Now there was no pride at all. With the rain beginning to chill him, with the blood pouring steadily between his fingers, he knew only a sort of dizziness. He could only think: I want to be Andy"(2).
Andy fails to realise that the decision he made to join the Royals was a mistake that would cost him his life. "He had heard the voice saying, 'That's for you Royal! " and then the sound of footsteps hurrying into the rain, and then he had fallen to the sidewalk, clutching his stomach, trying to stop the flow of blood" (1). Andy was stabbed because of the preconception of the rival gang member. The assailant did not know whether or not he was a good or bad person, he only knew he was a Royal. Andy's lack of judgement had not only led to his loss of individuality, but it also led to his untimely death. Andy was assaulted because of hatred. He wore a purple jacket that bore the name "The Royals", that is what killed him.
Another example of prejudice in this short story by Evan Hunter is the actions of the police officer. Regardless of Laura's cries, the police officer's first note on his notepad was "A Royal". The officer did not care if his name was Andy or who he was, he judged Andy by his purple jacket, nothing more." The cop picked up the jacket and turned it over in his hands. "A Royal, huh?" he said. She looked at the cop and, very quietly, she said, "His name is Andy. "The cop slung the jacket over his arm. He took out his black pad, and he flipped it open to a blank page. "A Royal, " he said. Then he began writing." (9) The officer's injustice towards Andy is unbearable. The words the officer says are those of prejudice. However, the officer does not realise his own intolerance towards Andy, he is blind towards it. The officer had no emotion when he saw the body; he declared the first and most important information on his notepad to be "A Royal". For this reason alone, the prejudice Andy faced when he was alive, he still faces after deathFinally, Andy was nearly saved by the couple Freddie and Angela, but their fear, intolerance and arrogance towards Andy led to his death. Freddie and Angela intended to help Andy, until they saw his jacket. The jacket Andy wore was like salt being rubbed into a wound. The pain and suffering the jacket brought him were excruciating, without it his life would have been salvaged. "He saw the lettering on the jacket then. THE ROYALS. He turned to Angela. "He's a Royal," he said. "Let's what. . . .what . . . do you want to do, Freddie?" I don't know. I don't know. I don't want to get mixed up in this. He's a Royal. We help him, and the Guardians'll be down on our necks. I don't want to get mixed up in this, Angela."" (7)Andy's best chance at survival was met with maltreatment. Andy was tossed away as soon as Freddie saw "The Royals" on his jacket. It seemed as though Andy had lost his humanity as soon as he put the jacket on. He was not "Andy" in the eyes of the public, but a Royal, and he resented himself for it. The jacket was poison to Andy. He wanted to throw it away and never see it again. The only triumph Andy had was when he managed to take off the jacket, to rid himself of the burden that was stealing his life. "If he never did another thing, he wanted to take off the jacket. The jacket had only one meaning now, and that was a very simple meaning. If he had not been wearing the jacket, he wouldn't have been stabbed. The knife had not been plunged in hatred of Andy. The knife hated only the purple jacket. The jacket was as stupid meaningless thing that was robbing him of his life. He lay struggling with the shiny wet jacket. His arms were heavy. Pain ripped fire across his body whenever he moved. But he squirmed and fought and twisted until one arm was free and then the other. He rolled away from the jacket and lay quite still, breathing heavily, listening to the sound of his breathing and the sounds of the rain and thinking: Rain is sweet, I'm Andy." (8) It is clear, that without the jacket, Freddie and Angela would have saved Andy. It was a small act of prejudice that led to Andy's death.
Our insufficiency to see prejudice in society and our own tendencies to be prejudiced were evident throughout this short story. If Andy had realised what he had done by joining this gang. If the police officer did not pre judge him and if Freddie and Angela simply ignored Andy's jacket. Andy would have met a far different fate than that of death.
Sources:"On the Sidewalk Bleeding" by Evan Hunterhttp://theliterarylink.com/sidewalk.html