Physical setting

The events described in the short story “On Being Crazy” by W. E. B. Du Bois take place in Texas, United States. The narrator tries to purchase various services in an unnamed town that eventually makes him feel “dissatisfied” (p. 2, l. 19). In general, the places where the narrator goes illustrate the absurdity of the Jim Crow laws, which enforced racial segregation in the Southern United States. 

First, the narrator goes to a restaurant, where his table companion feels offended by his presence: “ ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘do you wish to force your company on those who do not want you?’ ” (p. 1, l. 3). Then, the narrator goes to a theater, where he wants to listen to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. However, a white woman is outraged by his presence th...

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