Recently, I read Riot, by Walter Dean Myers. I appreciated and enjoyed this play. I appreciated being able to see from a first person narrative how Claire felt and what her experience was like being black during this certain period of time. I enjoyed that Claire and her family were safe and she’s slowly becoming comfortable in her skin again.
The protagonist is Claire. Her story is set in America 1863, specifically New York, Manhattan. The significance of the location setting is that it shows how it was being a person or color during this specific time and how dangerous it was with the riots and protests. The significance of the setting shifting from Claire’s hotel to other shops and places is that it shows how rioting and racism affected different locations and how different places had to recover. For example, an orphanage for young black kids was looted and destroyed, many of the kids were relocated and had to stay at an island. Another store was destroyed and looted, the store sold items so no one who owned it was hurt but a fight went on outside and many people along with the shops were hurt and damaged.
Claire faces certain forces and pressures. She faces her former friends joining protesters and being unsafe outside. Claire alone can’t solve these problems, but she is brave and works through them. You can see this in the book “We see CLAIRE look around quickly, and then push her way through the crowd. We see her jump to the ladder, scrambling desperately not to fall into the water as the boat pulls away.” On page 185. Claire pulls through and chooses to stay in New York no matter the circumstances.
The tension rises when Claire chooses to stay in New York and travels with her best friend during a fight between rioters and soldiers. This might leave a reader feeling scared and nervous while Claire and her friend are in danger. Claire goes through many unsafe situations but always manages to come out with minimum injuries.
The play climaxes when Claire encounters an old friend, and soldiers. “Liam, this is the darky lover who said I wasn’t good enough to work in her place.” Liam is an old friend of Claire and Maeve is his fiancé, Claire encounters them while they are looting and is put in danger by Maeve.
The falling action ultimately resolves the conflict. The riots die down and more black people are coming into New York after being freed. It’s a person versus society type of conflict that’s driving this story. Society puts down people of color and influences others to believe they are less than them, but no matter the situation they get stronger and they push through. It’s a very sad and unfortunate situation that still continues to this day when the color of your skin defines you, Claire doesn’t let this bring her down and grows as a person because of this. This play shows the perspective of Claire and how it was like to be in her situation. It was a good book to read and I would recommend it to others.