Similarities and differences between Jesse Owens and Luz Long

Essay by bocwytee03High School, 10th gradeA+, November 2004

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Jesse Owens was a gifted athlete, and surprisingly, a gifted writer as well. He is far above the stereotypical "dumb jock," as is evident from the processes of thought he requires you to take in order to keep up with him literarily. As all writers should, Owens had a specific purpose to convey in writing this Open Letter to a Young Negro. If the reader was quick to draw conclusions, he may assume that Owens was writing to tell of his impressive and numerous Olympic attempts and victories. This is not the case. In the beginning of the letter, Owens stated very plainly that he had won the gold medal in the broad jump event. If this letter were intended to entertain with Olympic stories, he would have left the reader hanging, and left an element of surprise or suspense instead of giving away the ending at the beginning of the story.

Olympic competition is no more than an exposition to Owens' letter. The message he is trying to communicate is that two people don't have to share much more than humanity in order to establish a strong, loving, and lasting bond.

Jesse Owens was a black man in a time when racism declared blacks as inferior. Even white men under Hitler's rule were judged and discriminated against by superficial standards such as hair and eye color. Bigotry was widespread, and took many forms.

In the beginning of the letter, Luz Long is portrayed as Owens' archrival. Long was Hitler's prize athlete, Owens' only real competition. There was a good chance of Long taking the gold. Owens knew this, and spent a great deal of grief over it. But not only was Luz Long Hitler's favorite athlete, he was the epitome of Hitler's supreme Aryan being.