Richard Wright's story, "Big Black Good Man" is a story that reflects the time it was written where racism was common in society. In this story we are reminded of one of life's little lessons that can be applied to everyday life. Most often, it is described as, "do not judge a book by its cover." This expression teaches the principle that one should not create bias opinions, prejudice thoughts, or premature judgments of someone merely based on their physical features. Though it may seem childish and simplistic, this short story proves that misconceptions that cause false conclusions can arise in all ages of life. .
The events described in the story take place in the late 1950s. Although this pre-dates the well-documented Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, it is clear that Denmark was much more open-minded about diversity in society than the United States was at that time. Denmark's hotels are apparently not segregated as an American inn would be, and Olaf is quick to recount several occasions where he took in people of assorted ethnic backgrounds without a second thought. At the same time, he contends that this particular black man seems terribly intimidating. When Olaf warns Lena, the prostitute solicited by Jim, that Jim was extremely large and black she says "He is just a man. [ ] You just leave that to me. You don't have to do anything I will handle "im." (211) From this statement, it becomes clear that Lena represents the changing times of racial discrimination and Olaf represents the society that pre-dates these concepts. .
A person's size and the color of his skin can be very intimidating, especially in 1957, when hatred was strong. Fear is the product of the unknown. The big black strange man was nothing Olaf had known before. He describes him as a [ ] "brooding black vision; it towered darkly some six and a half feet into the air, almost touching the ceiling, and its skin was so black that it had a bluish tint.