The Ball Game‎ > ‎

Racism

In The Ball Game, we find a thread of racism history. We meet Marjory and Alice, mother and daughter. Unusually for the 1960s, Marjory is a single mother. Whilst foolishly allowing herself to be doped, she was raped at sixteen by a black man, so Alice (now aged 17) is of mixed race.

Marjory’s parents were African missionaries. They blamed her for “going off the rails” and sent her back to Dundee in disgrace to have the baby and stay there with it.

Attitudes surrounding race relations and racial equality were very different in the 1940s when this was happening. So – as we read the flashback - we find racist words like “black babies” and we see Marjory’s mother’s trying to prevent her daughter “fraternising” with them. We hear Marjory’s own angry response to her father’s insistent questioning: All those bloody black boys look the same to me!

To Kill a Mockingbird Racism
Back in Scotland, Marjory is pitied for having been taken advantage of by some native in the jungle and the child is called a half-caste.

Seventeen years later, in 1964, when the story opens, some of this black racist language still persists: Pete, whilst being immediately captivated by Alice, cheerfully thinks that his grandfather would have said she has a touch of the tar brush. His mother knows his father will need to be persuaded to accept that his son has a half-caste as a girlfriend.

A nice twist comes when Marjory’s book group starts to read To Kill a Mocking Bird. Harper Lee’s famous novel deals with issues of rape, racial inequality and prejudice and won the Pullitzer prize. The book and the film were part of 1960’s history, giving The Ball Game a “topical” edge.