Tally’s Corner (1967)

Elliott Liebow


Study Guide Three


Chapter 5: Lovers and Exploiters (137-161)



1.      Explain the complicated relationship between a potential mate’s desirability and the perception of potential financial value in street corner courting behaviors.





2.      What accounts for the attractiveness to street corner men of women of mixed race?






3.      What evidence does Liebow use to assert that the conception of men and women as ‘cynical, self-serving marauders’ is in reality a fictional pose?


a)      Carol and Lena:

b)      Tally:

c)      Sea Cat:




4.      In streetcorner language, what does being ‘nice’ mean?




5.      How are both an ideal and a real mode of behavior at work in these relationships?




6.      How is this attitude reflected in the men’s attitudes towards contraception?





7.      How does Harry legitimize his genuine love interest in Mary in the eyes of the other streetcorner men?




8.      How do Leroy’s declarations of romantic love more truly reflect the streetcorner man’s attitudes about love?



9.      But what is, more often, the reality of the situation he is in? How is Sea Cat’s relationship with Gloria typical?




10.  Identify Liebow’s thesis in this chapter:






Chapter 6: Friends and Networks (161-208)



1.      Why do friendship relationships assume a much greater value in street corner culture than they do in middle class society?




2.       How are friendship and kinship blended on the corner?




3.       What is meant when two people in the ghetto describe themselves as ‘going for cousins’ or ‘brothers and sisters’?




4.      How is this ‘pseudo-kinship’ reflected in the relationship between Leroy and Richard?




5.      Why is developing these relationships an essential survival skill on the corner?



6.      How do the corner men tend to romanticize these relationships?



7.      How did this communal relationship wind up at Malvina’s House?




8.      How is the reality of this type of relationship? Why?

9.      How does this pattern play out in the following relationships?


a.        Tally and Richard’s relationship?

b.      Tally and Emma Lou’s relationship?

c.       Tally and Lonny’s relationship?

d.      Tally and Bess, Earl, and Lucille?




10.  What is Liebow’s thesis in this chapter?