The Night of Delicate Terrors
The Night of Delicate Terrors by Harlan Ellison is a story that at first seems like the protagonist McKinley Hooker is just labouring through a family trip. However, the internal and external struggles presented by Ellison are shaping exactly what McKinley plans to do; whether he wants to go on and help start a revolution or go back to the Deep South and experience the prejudices of a Blackman. Ellison shapes his internal struggles so that it includes the concern for his family and whether he should sacrifice their individual safety for that of a whole culture. His external struggles include those against the snowy weather, which is a prelude to the white supremacists in the motel. Harlan Ellison uses McKinley Hooker as a medium to realistically present how blacks were treated before the Civil Rights Movement.
I think that the external pressures that Kin feels are ever present in the first few pages of the story.
For example, he knows that the weather is getting extremely bad and that the kids are getting cold, even though the car heater is working at its hardest. He even feels bodily discomfort because he has been in the car for a long time. These pressures are making him confront the certainty that there are not any motels for African Americans, and thereby forcing him to go to an all white motel. He knew that they had to risk both their pride and their safety by going to the next hotel. However, it was that or freeze to death in the January weather. The author spends so much time describing this setting to emphasize all the conflicts, which are undercurrents within the story. For example, the storm is a conflict with the environment. This sets up...