b)      His language.

Line 31, the expression “come here you” is disrespectful but more importantly, the word “you” suggests that the doctor doesn’t have a name or an identity, as if the sheriff used his power to say the doctor is nobody, that he has no identity, no name.

In the beginning, line 13, he calls the doctor “reverend”, at the time a lot of black men were reverends so for the sheriff all black men are reverends, so the idea is that if the sheriff decides that Dr Copeland is a reverend, , he becomes one. The same thing happens lines 19/20: if he says the judge is busy, then the judge is busy whereas other people, white people, are free to see him. Finally line 37, even if the sheriff is lying when he says that Dr Copeland has been drinking, it must be accepted as the truth just because he says it.

All things considered, the language of the sheriff is so powerful that whatever he says must be accepted as the truth.


c)      The physical violence of the sheriff is an instrument of his power.

As soon as Dr Copeland starts contradicting the sheriff, the latter strikes him in the face. It’s a way for him to impose his reality and to show his power. The doctor must feel powerless and helpless. He wants the doctor to understand / to learn that he must never contradict him / respond to him, that he must keep silent and obey. There is also the intention to humiliate the doctor and to make him feel inferior. The pain is both physical and moral. Moreover, the doctor is beaten up by three men, the humiliation is even bigger and more important, it shows the power of the white sheriff has no limits. If the doctor died the sheriff would walk away with it unpunished / without being punished.

DS LE VENDREDI 23 MARS, apprendre cours sur le sheriff, être capable de dire ce qui fait de lui un homme de pouvoir.