In the Heat of the Night

7 July 2016

The novel “In the Heat of the Night” introduces the reader to two characters, Virgil Tibbs and Bill Gillespie. Virgil Tibbs is a homicide detective at the Pasadena Police department, and Bill Gillespie is the Chief of Police for Wells County. In the novel they are shown as two completely opposite characters whose personalities differ almost completely. The basic aspect of the novel is how during the 1960’s people in the south underwent severe racism and prejudice.

The novel also depicts how because of those racial tensions the way these two characters interact with each other and how that is evident. In the beginning of the novel we are introduced to Virgil Tibbs. He is shown as a wealthy, highly educated, and confident young African American. Virgil Tibbs is introduced to us as a prime suspect for the murder of Enrico Mantoli. Soon after we are presented that Tibbs is an officer and that is a shock to Gillespie. Virgil Tibbs is a very well educated man, who is calm and patient with others.

In the Heat of the Night Essay Example

An example of this would be when Gillespie is angry or disturbed by Tibbs actions, he acts very calm and does not ever get angry. Despite all the hatred and anger people have for him he still continues to act in a civilized and well-behaved manor towards his co-workers and the people around him On the other hand, Bill Gillespie is a totally different character. He is physically larger and older than Tibbs, is a racist, and has several temper issues. Gillespie believes that Tibbs is far more experienced at the job then he is.

Gillespie understands that Tibbs knows what he is doing, but is not happy about the fact that Tibbs has been selected to investigate the case. The problem Gillespie has with Tibbs is that he is more educated and has a higher source of income then he does. Also, Gillespie’s initial reaction to having Tibbs work on the case was negative and demanded that Tibbs be sent to his train right away.. An example of this would “Who in hell asked you to open your big black mouth”, Gillespie demanded.

This is key example of the anger and rage, Gillespie feels towards Tibbs. Racial comments such as these are often used towards him. In addition, there are numerous differences that clearly distinguish these two from each other. For example Gillespie is known as the less educated, angry, and racist character. On the other hand, Tibbs is far more educated, calm and patient, and non-racist. However, both these characters are police officers and understand that they both have a case to solve. Although tension exists between the two of them, they still have some

respect for one another. For example, “Thank you, sir, is there anything else you wanted to ask me? ” said Tibbs. In conclusion, the novel “In the Heat of the Night “deals with a lot of racial tensions between these two characters. From the beginning they start off as protagonist and antagonist, but as the story continue on and they create a bond with one another. Eventually after all is said and done, Virgil Tibbs and Bill Gillespie develop respect for each other and the racial tensions between the two extinguish.

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