The racism factor during sixties in the United States of America was huge. To the American people, the black people had only one purpose and that was as slaves. But we know now that the only difference between black and white people is color. The writing on this essay is black. Does that mean I am racist? Does this mean the color red is better than the color blue just because it looks different? That is for you to decide.
In the Heat of the Night, takes place in the southern states in the sixties. In the book and the movie there is a lot of racism and the only black people present were working on the cotton farms. In the book, the conclusion is devoted to tying together “loose ends” and unraveling the mystery of the murder of Enrico. The movie and the book differently portray the subplots that merge together at the end of the story to reveal the solution to the murder plot. As well the development in the movie and the book of the relationship between Sam Woods and Dewana offers hope to the hate and the racism. Racism is also portrayed in the book and movie in very much the same way. Important characters in the book and movie undergo significant changes.
In the movie and book In the Heat of the night, the solution to the murder plot was similar but with a few differences. The murder was committed by Ralph, the cook, because he thought that Deloris, his girlfriend, was pregnant and tried to cover this up by accusing Sam Woods of raping her. Tibbs discovered that Ralph was the murderer because he realized that there was no one else that met his profile of the murderer. He realized that the police were being setup by Deloris and that Ralph was right handed.
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In the movie the murder was committed by Ralph, but the development of Ralph as a suspect only came to light when Tibbs went to the abortionist and saw Ralph in the shadows. The murder plot ends with the murder of Deloris brother and his final confession in the police station.
The development of the romantic plot in the movie and in the book are somewhat different. For example in the movie there is no love except for thelove affair between Ralph and Deloris. Racism and hatred leave the white citizens of Sparta alone and distrustful, when a relationship develops between Tibbs and the chief when they have dinner and get drunk the town feels betrayed. The only other relationships that exist in the movie are between the black people. They seem to be the only ones who have children. In contrast, Ralph and Delores have to seek out an abortion. The only normal relationship in the white community was that of the murder victim and his wife, who broke down after hearing of her husbands death.
Unlike the movie, the relationships in the book were more obvious. For example, the Endocotts, who seemed to be northerners with more modern attitudes and were willing to open up their house to black visitors and promote the music festival for the town of Wells. The other relationship that developed was between Sam Woods and Dewana, the murder victim’s daughter. This relationship flourished in a home free of prejudice. Dewana is driven to develop a relationship because of the closed mindedness of the town and its citizen including Sam Woods.
While there were differences between the book and the movie, in the movie the approach to relationships and the examples of racism were very similar. In the book, racism is obvious from the arrest of Tibbs who is arrested because of his color and assumed guilty. Once cleared, he is given a car. Unlike the police vehicle that white officers drive Tibb’s car is suited for only a black man. In the book, the prejudice starts at the town mayor who feels threatened by Tibb’s investigation. This feeling passes down through the police force. The other white citizens react in the same way as the mayor and go after Tibbs in a vigilante manner by attempting to assault him. The Mayor and the Chief are less blatant by using verbal attacks. The Mayor wants to use Tibbs as a scape goat. If Tibb’s solves the murder, the chief gets the credit and if he doesn’t Tibb’s gets the blame.
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Like the book the movie, expresses racism with Mr. Endicott being the head of the town and owning black servants. He also threatens Virgil with lashes after they exchange slaps. The Sparta police force have no blacks and the only caring person shown is the black mechanic who opens his house to Tibbs. He also seems to be the only one with the semblance of a family. At the end of the movie and with the solution of the murder Tibbs proves himself worthy of a small amount of respect from the Chief who sees him off at the train station.
Although racism still exist at the end of the book and movie, some character have had noticeable character changes. Sam Woods, for example develops slowly and questions the things he sees around him. By the end of the book he befriends Tibbs and finds love with Dewana.
Tibbs in the beginning as a racist northerner, is as condescending towards the people of Wells as they are racist of him. He is as happy to leave Wells and not come back. He encounters episode after episode of the degradation of being a Negro in the south. It is not until toward the end of the book, when he gets in the car with Sam Woods, that he stops being concerned about the racism and focuses on the murder. This finally makes him equal to the other police officers. Tibbs sees in the Endocotts, the possibility for change and the chance for others to change in Wells. The Chief feels more threatened by Tibb’s ability than his color but eventually accepts and respects his ability.
In the movie, in true Hollywood fashion, there are only two main characters. Sam Woods has the supporting role but has no real character. The battle of racism is between Tibbs and the Chief. They are both outsiders and alone hired to do a job. The chief in the beginning threatens Tibbs with violence to get a confession. Later when Tibbs won’t give him the results of the autopsy he throws him in jail. Their dinner together at the chief’s house shows how close and similar they actually are. They seem to come to a truce and a realization of their similarities when they say goodbye at the train station and the Chief says, “take care of yourself”
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In the Heat of the Night is a story about racism. This story has been told through a book and a movie. There are similarities and differences in the way element approach the murder plot, the relationships, underlying point about racism in the southern 1960’s is very powerful.