Premium Essay

Racism and Violence in American Literature

In: English and Literature

Submitted By Bibikhanh
Words 1707
Pages 7
Racism and Violence in American Literature
Racial tension between Black and White Americans has been viewed as one of the darkest chapters in the American history. The issue has been discussed in various forms of the media during the time. Literature is one of the most efficient means where racial discrimination is described in a very vivid yet precise way. The story “That Evening Sun” by William Faulkner and the play “Dutchman” by Amiri Baraka are two of several works of American literature that addresses the matter. Regardless of their different genres, these two works have employed many poetic devices such as metaphor, imagery, symbolism and repetition in order to address several subjects that belong to the core of human baseness: racism, abuse, sexuality, exploitation and murder which can be summed in the category of violence. “Dutchman” by Amiri Baraka, which was shown for the first time in 1964, is a play that addresses strongly the racial tension between Black and White Americans. The play has used several symbols and metaphor to serve the author’s purpose of describing the extreme hostility and dirty temptation that the implausible female character, Lula, has exposed to the young black man, Clay. The apple that Lula eats can be viewed as a symbol of sexuality and indulgence that are considered illegal or immoral. “You want this? [...] Eating apples together is always the first step. Or walking up uninhabited Seventh Avenue in the twenties on the weekends. [...] Would you like to get involved with me, Mister Man?” (Dutchman scene I). The image of Lula biting the apple and offering Clay an apple at the beginning of the play in a very tempting way towards Clay tells the readers that something wrong could happen later in the play. Clay’s downfall with the apple signifies his blindness by Lula’s beauty and therefore; the devastating consequence he would get at…...

Similar Documents

Free Essay

American Literature

...vision of what women can achieve, the story is a first-person account of a young mother's mental deterioration, based on Gilman's own experiences. Although early reviewers interpreted "The Yellow Wallpaper" as either a horror story or a case study in mental illness, most critics today see it as a feminist indictment of society's subjugation of women and praise its compelling characterization, complex symbolism, and thematic depth.”(Women’s History: Charlotte Perkins Gilman). Works Cited Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Gioia. "Charlotte Perkins Gilman: The Yellow Wallpaper." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Fifth Ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 290+. Print. Kennedy, X. J., and Dana Gioia. "Nathaniel Hawthorne: Young Goodman Brown." Literature: An Introduction to Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and Writing. Fifth Ed. New York: Pearson Longman, 2007. 342+. Print. SparkNotes Editors. “SparkNote on the Yellow Wallpaper.” SparkNotes.com. SparkNotes LLC. 2006. Web. 12 Apr. 2012. "Women's History: Charlotte Perkins Gilman." www.gale.cengage.com. U•X•L Biographies, 1996. Web. 14 Apr. 2012. . "Young Goodman Brown, Nathaniel Hawthorne - Introduction." Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism. Ed. Juliet Byington. Vol. 95. Gale Cengage, 2001. ENotes.com. 14 Apr, 2012...

Words: 1481 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

American Ethnic Literature

...What makes American literature American? America has long been fans of the superior writers, such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald for their various works including “The Great Gatsby” and “The Old Man in the Sea”, America has been known for its fondness of short stories. American literature aims to embody the values and morals of the American culture. The foundation of American values include the rights to liberty, justice, freedom, equality, love, and family, American literature usually will be centered in one or more of these ideals. American literature incorporates the story of an American character and their encounters with the land and the people, exemplifying the human need to control and understand their environment. “Whitman emerges here both as an exemplar of the dominant literary theory and as a precursor of our contemporary value schema, with its enshrinement of the "me" (San Francisco Chronicle (Pre-1997 Fulltext)). Whitman was known for his fresh perspectives of the past and domination of literary theories. What is literary canon? How does literary canon relate to what is going on in society? Literary canons are the classifications of books and their influence upon the culture and society of a specific region or country. Literary canons outline the influential literature of a culture, society, country, or secular community. Society looks to literary canons to understand cultural influence and to research the issues that are most important to the people of the......

Words: 1099 - Pages: 5

Premium Essay

Latin American Literature

...Latin American Literature * Pre-Columbian cultures were primarily oral, though the Aztecs and Mayans produced written codices. * Oral accounts of mythological and religious beliefs were recorded after the arrival of European colonizers, like Christopher Columbus. * During the colonial period, written culture was often in the hands of the church, producing poetry and philosophical essays. * The 19th century was a period of “foundational fictions”; novels in the Romantic or Naturalist traditions attempted to establish a sense of national identity. * At the turn of the 20th century, modernism emerged, which is the first truly Latin American literature to influence culture outside of the region. * The Latin American Boom (Boom Latino-Americano) of the 1960s put the continent’s literature on the global map; Spanish novels were quickly translated into English and circulated throughout Europe and the world. * Contemporary literature in the region became vibrant and varied, from the best-selling authors Paulo Coelho and Isabel Allende to the genre of testimonio—first person accounts of human rights abuses, violence and war, and living under conditions of social oppression. * Industrialization/economic progress of Latin American is hampered by both internal and external factors. External factors are those powerful First World countries, such as Britain and the United States, whose leaders see the region as a source of cheap raw materials and labor. It......

Words: 1882 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

Racism in the American Criminal Justice System

...Introduction With practices aimed at reducing discrimination such as affirmative action, the argument has been made that racial discrimination is no longer a pressing issue in American society.[1] It has further been argued that the Constitution protects all citizens, and race has no weight in the American criminal justice system.[2] While the United States Constitution guarantees equal treatment of all citizens, regardless of race, racism still exists in the American law enforcement and criminal justice systems. In this era with the end of official institutional racism, there has been a corresponding shift from de jure racism to a de facto racism where members of minority groups, especially African Americans, are subject to unequal protection of the laws and excessive in the American criminal justice system, particularly in drug law enforcement.[3] Drug law enforcement is far more discretionary than for other offenses. It is for the police to decide when and where they will seek to make drug arrests, and what priority they will place on enforcing drug laws.[4] Since the war on drugs began in the 1980s, two general trends have been identified. First, there has been a substantial increasing in the number of drug arrests overall; and second, black males have constituted an increasing proportion of these arrests.[5] Based on this evidence, it would be natural to assume that the number of arrests is proportional to the crime rate – that blacks began using drugs in...

Words: 3035 - Pages: 13

Free Essay

American Literature

...AMERICAN LITERATURE Course + Code Name Professor’s Name University City and State Date American Literature Since the Civil War. Create ed. McGraw-Hill, 2014. E-book. Nick has a fixation if camping and fishing in nature which is an escape mode from the horrible and distressful experience that he had gained within his past. Nick is suffering from PTSD and this is main reason why he has emotional vision on his wellbeing by dwelling in nature. To some extent, Nick’s survival can be seen as a helpful mode towards his own wellbeing but in reality the case is quite different. Hemingway has emphasized greatly on the Nick’s disturbed psychological condition. Hemingway has used the swamp metaphors within his emphasis. The author has made attempts in revealing some particular nature aspects that reinstates the feeling of hopelessness within him through Nick’s plan of escaping to the surrounding nature. The story indicated that it is tragic to fish in the swamp. Suspicion is brought about by fishing in the swamp and Nicks urge to go fishing. Nicks is seen to have quite a deeper mental connection to fishing as opposed to the bodily adaptation of fishing within the swamp. Nick may have been observed to enjoy natural environment through his urge of escaping into nature that would do him better due to his mental condition. However, by the fact that Nick has a fixation of the tragic swamp, all feelings change. Within Nick life, the swamp acts as an obstacle as it represents a......

Words: 570 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

American Literature

...not include women. Legacy Over the next 30 years of her life, Elizabeth worked hard to improve the rights of women. Although she didn't live long enough to see women gain the right to vote with the Nineteenth Amendment, it was her hard work that paved the way. Interesting Facts about Elizabeth Cady Stanton • A battleship used during World War II was named after Stanton called the USS Elizabeth C. Stanton. • Her house in Seneca Falls was declared a National Historic Landmark. • She spoke of women's rights before the U.S. Congress giving a famous speech called The Solitude of Self. • She once said that "the history of the past is but one long struggle upward to equality." Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902) was a leading American social activist who, alongside Susan B. Anthony, spearheaded the early women's rights movement in the 19th century. Stanton was the author of the Declaration of Sentiments, the landmark document signed at the Seneca Falls Convention of 1848. A staunch abolitionist prior to the Civil War, Stanton dedicated her later years to championing the cause of women's suffrage. Despite all her work and effort, Stanton died 18 years before women were granted the right to vote. Susan B. Anthony • Occupation: Civil Rights Leader • Born: February 15, 1820 in Adams, Massachusetts • Died: March 13, 1906 in Rochester, New York • Best known for: Fighting for women's right to vote Biography: Susan B. Anthony was a women's rights leader in...

Words: 5869 - Pages: 24

Premium Essay

Racism on American Slavery.

...that was the stigma. And so, Africa was raped of her culture and heritage as millions upon untold millions were shipped from west African nations because the white man assumed he was the superior being. And there they toiled for three hundred years under the burning sun. The thing that sets the United States apart from all those other countries that legalized slavery is the fact that the American economy was built upon slave labor. | I think your predilection for grandeur has made some of your statements false. And by "think" I mean, I know. You think that the 300 year span of American slavery was the most widespread use of slaves... ever? Is that... a joke? Or just turning a blind eye to history for the sheer fun of it? America was not the first to do any of those things you mentioned... I wish I had the energy to write a fully fleshed response right now, unfortunately that is not the case. But... for starters - and this is basic knowledge that I thought EVERYONE knew about - just look at slavery in ancient Egypt. Simply reading an article on that particular era would disprove your American slavery being unique spiel. Slavery has been around since ~1760 BC... I just can't believe that you believe the things that you are saying. I feel like you heard it somewhere and adopted the sense of logic without doing any real research. I'm a Peace Studies/International Studies major at the University of Missouri, so slavery (among other atrocities) is something I have to read......

Words: 532 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

American Literature

...American history is the bases for America now. We need to understand the building blocks of our world today, so we don’t make the same mistakes that we did from the past. Everyone should learn from the early settlers mistakes and not also repeat them. In politics people learn from histories mistakes so they will not get overturned and there will not be any civil wars. The role of literature in understanding the origins of American ideology is how freedom of religion, economic struggle, and the government is the same from 200 years ago to the present day. The economy 200 years ago would fluctuate from high to low just how it fluctuates now; people traded and tried anything to make a profit and sometimes the Europeans would give the Indians an unfair trade, just like how people today are capitalists in America and the bosses will do anything to increase their profits even if that gives the workers a lower wage for the same job. When people discover new things they are likely to make money off their discovery. “While the ships stayed, our allowance was somewhat bettered by a daily proportion of biscuit, which the sailers would pilfer to sell, give, or exchange with us, for money, sassafras, furs, or love” (Smith 67). Indians and Europeans are able to make profit off goods that the other group doesn’t make. Just like in our society today we buy China’s products that we don’t make and they buy ours that they don’t make. The foundation of our government elected officials is the......

Words: 1001 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

American Ethnic Literature

...American Ethnic Literature JamieLyn Thompson ENG 301 Marc Bonanni December 7th, 2015 American Ethnic Literature Introduction American literature is most commonly based on experiences within the American culture. Being an American comes with unique qualities, from the vast landscapes to the rich history. According to Britannica.com American literature is "the body of written works produced in the English language in the United States".(Britannic.com) However, there are many different types of American literature from classic American literature to modern American literature being writing all around the world based on the American experiences of the author. American Ethnic Literature The American ethnic literature is based on life and freedom with the United States. These pieces of literature reflect the different aspects and inspire many other countries. It has been seen that Americans can go through numerous setbacks and always spring back from the hardships. There are historical events that are written to express the events and how the country fought to have a life that was worth living. There is a great deal of pride that come with being an American and it is something a reader can get a small glimpse of when reading American literature. America is deep with cultural diversity that allows the country to cater to a different race, religion and ethnic background as a whole, this expressed within the American Literature. Literary Canon The literary canon is an......

Words: 1117 - Pages: 5

Free Essay

American Literature

...Essay of the Glass Menagerie Jenni Frederick Introduction to American Literature Everest University Online Essay on the Glass Menagerie In the very beginning of this play, Tom avoids conflict with his mother by stepping out for a cigarette in the middle of dinner. Tom wants to escape his mother's nagging so to avoid it all together he leaves the dinner table before dinner is even finished. His solution was to just get up and walk away. The fire escape seems to be Tom's way to escape. All he wants is out of that little house and away from his mother. I believe that Amanda wants Laura to find herself a husband so they can leave their little cramped space. Laura, however seems fine with her surroundings and does not share her mother and brother's wants. In Scene Two we can see that Laura does not want the same things that her mother wants. She does not want to go to school. School just wasn't for her, that is why she dropped out. Her mother is upset about this because she wants more for her daughter. I think that it is more than that too. I think that Amanda is looking to Laura to save both of them from the life that they have. You can see this when Amanda says to Laura, "So what are we going to do the rest of our lives?" (Williams, 2016, p.705) Amanda is looking for an escape from their poor life as well, but she is looking to Laura to provide that escape. I believe when all of them talk about their father, there is a little......

Words: 597 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

African American Literature

...African American Literature Rebekah Valcarcel Eng/301 November 30th, 2015 Dr. Julie Kares The art of storytelling invites readers into another world. Examining the literary conventions African American authors use allows readers to compare and contrast literary works. Harriet A. Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Terry McMillan’s The End and Maya Angelou’s Willie are significant literary pieces to discuss. It is important to consider factors such as historical, socio-political and cultural climate because these factors contribute and influence an author’s point of view as well as each author’s unique voice and message depending on the time period. Harriet A. Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, is a slave narrative. The literary conventions of the slave narrative define the work. Slave narratives echo biblical stories that often reflect persecuted groups attempting to escape to freedom. Jacobs’s piece details her struggle to escape her master from sexual abuse. Vivanco (2003), “The process from sin to rebirth in spiritual autobiographies is paralleled by the process from slavery to freedom in slave narratives. Slaves experience a change from chattel, enduring suffering, to man or woman living in the Promised Land, the North,” (para. 5). Further distinction of the slave narrative is how authors shape the story, often chronologically. Slave narratives illustrate an author’s personal experience though many share common themes of extreme......

Words: 1974 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

Violence in Literature

...Violence in Literature Jesse Weld 20 June 2012 World Literature II Maybee South University   Violence is a apart of literature just as it is a part of our lives. Violence in literature is a story about our lives. Authors write about violence because it is inevitable in life. Authors are human just like us. So naturally, by reading literature violence is going to appear. Humans are only bound by their imagination as to how violent we can get. This is why violence is so prevalent inside the literature we read, because it is synonymous with our lives. We have to either see, hear, or talk about violence everyday of our lives. Literature reveals the types of violence that is experienced throughout time. Different periods of time have different views and tactics about violence. Now, in the twenty-first century technology has changed the way violence is executed. Literature has evolved along with the violence throughout time. When violence in literature changes so does violence in reality. Sometimes reality is recorded in literature as like a violence timeline. This tells people how and why violence changes or evolves into how we view violence today. Society changes towards more civilized people. No longer are there events like public hangings, decapitation, and showdowns. I know there are some cultures still may execute these events, but not very likely in the twenty-first century. In “Candide,” by Voltaire, the human capacity for violence is......

Words: 1970 - Pages: 8

Premium Essay

African American Literature

...African American Literature ENG/301 Kristina Brooks March 12, 2012 The African American Literature and its history was an interesting subject or ethnic literary to learn about. This literature’s readings showed a great deal of different moments or life events that the different authors experienced as well as tragic events, and heart felt pain they endured over their lifetime. Some authors talked about the wonderful life they lived and how blessed they were to be a white man’s slave. I will be discussing the different views and relations in each of the readings along with the racist remarks and overall way they were treated as an African American over different periods of time. The first reading I want to talk about is, “White Folks Treated Us Good,” by Marriah Hines. In this reading Hines talks about how life as a slave for the white folks was great, so great, that when slavery ended and African Americans were given their freedom, she stayed because of the way her master treated her and stayed loyal to him and his family until he passed away. During the time of slavery, Hines, was never treated bad, nor was she ever beaten or raped by her masters. While some people were starved, and treated like cats and dogs, Hines, was fed and clothed and kept them on a higher level (Hines, M p.34). The next reading I will be talking about is, “To my old Master,” by Jourdan Anderson. This story is a great message about......

Words: 845 - Pages: 4

Premium Essay

Themes of Early American Literature

...Themes of Early American Literature Early American literature does a tremendous job of revealing the exact conditions and challenges that were faced by the explorers and later by the colonists of the New World. From early shipwrecks to the later years of small colonies barely surviving through dreadful winters, the literary works of the time period focus on some very recognizable themes. The theme of any given work – being simply the unifying subject or idea – is a very important element of any piece of writing. As one reviews some of this early literature, it becomes obvious that several themes appear repeatedly, and it is these subjects that were clearly very common among people from all over the New World. While a number of themes can be found in early American literature, the only dominant and recurring themes are exploration, hardship, and religion. It is these central ideas around which all early American writing is based. The first prominent theme that appeared in the literature of Christopher Columbus and the many great explorers that followed in his footsteps was that of exploration. With the mission to sail West across the Atlantic Ocean and report back with their findings, these explorers wrote down all of their noteworthy experiences in journals and narratives. So, it is only natural that the theme of exploration can be found in many of these literary works. For example, in Christopher Columbus’ Report of the First Voyage, he details the discovery......

Words: 1577 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

American Literature

...Katrina Bryant ENG/301 American literature is any written work of art that is created in the United States. American literature is like all literature, it has literary experiences and contextual history of America. It depicts how America has changed is still changing today. American literature has changed over time just like most canons of literary works. The uniqueness of American literature is that America from its beginning had a special philosophy of life and freedom. The special philosophy of life and freedom that made American literature so unique was reflected in its writings. Americans believed and had faith that God was and is the given of all our rights and freedom. We as Americans had faith in ourselves that we could succeed in anything that we try doing. The literature that we Americans wrote made life worth living because it was displayed for the world to read and understand that life was what we made it. Also by Americans having the ability to spring back from diversity made life worth living and George Washington was a perfect example of this. Literary canon is basically a suggested list of readings that belongs to a country or a certain period in time. Literary canon contains literary works that is mainly by authors who are accepted as an authority in their field and their writings constituting a serious body of literature in any given language. The works that are collected that is included in a literary canon is approved largely by cultural......

Words: 710 - Pages: 3