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Chapter 25 Multiethnic literature (?) African American Literature

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Title: Chapter 25 Multiethnic literature (?) African American Literature


1
Chapter 25 Multiethnic literature (?) African
American Literature
2
Introduction
  • 1.History
  • ?African American literature has come a long way.
    It is a unique literature because it is all tied
    up with the unique experience of the African
    American people and the phases of their steady
    growth.1 The American Americans have a history of
    their own. Their life in Africa before they were
    brought to America, the middle passage when so
    many of them died on the ships bringing them
    over, the slavery which was worse than death, the
    Emancipation after the Civil War, their movement
    to the cities where their life began to be
    polarized, the process of integration into the
    mainstream, and the Black Power movement and the
    Civil Rights movement--all these factors decide
    that the literary tradition of the African
    Americans is to be drastically different from the
    American literature we have been talking about so
    far, which is generally Anglo-American, and does
    not include much of American Indian culture and
    that of the African Americans. For a long time
    the images of the African Americans in mainstream
    American literature had been presented in a
    distorted manner. Even well wishing writers like
    Mark Twain were unable to overcome their
    prejudices. For instance, Jim in The Adventures
    of Huckleberry Finn is made out to be very funny
    and is important in the novel only for helping to
    reveal the growth of the social awareness of the
    white boy. These may not be

3
  • intentional the writers, dealing with an
    experience they do not easily share, just cannot
    help writing about it the way they do.
  • ?African-American literature is the body of
    literature produced in the United States by
    writers of African descent. The genre traces its
    origins to the works of such late 18th century
    writers as Phillis Wheatley and Olaudah Equiano,
    reaching early high points with slave narratives
    and the Harlem Renaissance, and continuing today
    with authors such as Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou
    and Walter Mosley being ranked among the top
    writers in the United States. Among the themes
    and issues explored in African American
    literature are the role of African Americans
    within the larger American society,
    African-American culture, racism, slavery, and
    equality. African American writing has also
    tended to incorporate within itself oral forms
    such as spirituals, sermons, gospel music, blues
    and rap.
  • ?As African Americans' place in American society
    has changed over the centuries, so, too, have the
    focus of African American literature. Before the
    American Booker T. Washington debated whether to
    confront or appease racist attitudes in the
    United States. During the American Civil

4
  • Rights movement, authors such as Richard Wright
    and Gwendolyn Brooks wrote about issues of racial
    segregation and black nationalism. Today, African
    American literature has become accepted as an
    integral part of American literature, with books
    such as Roots The Saga of an American Family by
    Alex Haley, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, and
    Beloved by Toni Morrison achieving both
    best-selling and award-winning status. Civil War,
    African American literature primarily focused on
    the issue of slavery, as indicated by the
    subgenre of slave narratives. At the turn of the
    20th century, books by authors such as W. E. B.
    Du Bois and Booker T. Washington debated whether
    to confront or appease racist attitudes in the
    United States. During the American Civil Rights
    movement, authors such as Richard Wright and
    Gwendolyn Brooks wrote about issues of racial
    segregation and black nationalism. Today, African
    American literature has become accepted as an
    integral part of American literature, with books
    such as Roots The Saga of an American Family by
    Alex Haley, The Color Purple by Alice Walker, and
    Beloved by Toni Morrison achieving both
    best-selling and award-winning status.

5
  • 2.Characteristics and themes?In broad terms,
    African American literature can be defined as
    writings by people of African descent living in
    the United States of America. However, just as
    African American history and life is extremely
    varied, so too is African American
    literature.That said, African American literature
    has generally focused on themes of particular
    interest to Blacks in the United States, such as
    the role of African Americans within the larger
    American society and what it means to be an
    American. As Princeton University professor
    Albert J. Raboteau has said, all African-American
    studies, including African American literature,
    "speaks to the deeper meaning of the
    African-American presence in this nation. This
    presence has always been a test case of the
    nation's claims to freedom, democracy, equality,
    the inclusiveness of all." As such, it can be
    said that African American Literature explores
    the very issues of freedom and equality which
    were long denied to Blacks in the United States,
    along with further themes such as African
    American culture, racism, religion, slavery, a
    sense of home. and more.

6
  • ?African American literature constitutes a vital
    branch of the literature of the African diaspora,
    with African American literature both being
    influenced by the great African diasporic
    heritage and in turn influencing African
    diasporic writings in many countries. In
    addition, African American literature exists
    within the larger realm of post-colonial
    literature, even though scholars draw a
    distinctive line between the two by stating that
    "African American literature differs from most
    post-colonial literature in that it is written by
    members of a minority community who reside within
    a nation of vast wealth and economic power.
  • ?African American oral culture is rich in poetry,
    including spirituals, African American gospel
    music, blues and rap. This oral poetry also
    appears in the African American tradition of
    Christian sermons, which make use of deliberate
    repetition, cadence and alliteration. African
    American literatureespecially written poetry,
    but also prosehas a strong tradition of
    incorporating all of these forms of oral poetry.

7
  • ?However, while these characteristics and themes
    exist on many levels of African American
    literature, they are not the exclusive definition
    of the genre and do not exist within all works
    within the genre. In addition, there is
    resistance to using Western literary theory to
    analyze African American literature. As Henry
    Louis Gates, Jr., one of the most important
    African American literary scholars, once said,
    "My desire has been to allow the black tradition
    to speak for itself about its nature and various
    functions, rather than to read it, or analyze it,
    in terms of literary theories borrowed whole from
    other traditions, appropriated from without."

8
  • 3. Critiques
  • While African American literature is well
    accepted in the United States, there are numerous
    views on its significance, traditions, and
    theories. To the genre's supporters, African
    American literature arose out of the experience
    of Blacks in the United States, especially with
    regards to historic racism and discrimination,
    and is an attempt to refute the dominant
    culture's literature and power. In addition,
    supporters see the literature existing both
    within and outside American literature and as
    helping to revitalize the country's writing. To
    critics, African American literature is part of a
    Balkanization of American literature. In
    addition, there are some within the African
    American community who do not like how their own
    literature sometimes showcases Black people.

9
Frederick Douglass (1817-1895)
  • 1.Life
  • Frederick Douglass c.1817-1895, American
  • abolitionist, b. near Easton, Md. The son of
  • a black slave, Harriet Bailey, and an unknown
  • white father, he took the name of Douglass
  • (from Scott's hero in The Lady of the Lake)
  • after his second, and successful, attempt to
    escape from slavery in 1838. At New Bedford,
    Mass., he found work as a day laborer. An
    extemporaneous speech before a meeting at
    Nantucket of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery
    Society in 1841 was so effective that he was made
    one of its agents. Douglass, who had learned to
    read and write while in the service of a kind
    mistress in Baltimore, published his Narrative of
    the Life of Frederick Douglass in 1845. Fearing
    capture as a fugitive slave, he spent several
    years in England and Ireland and returned in
    1847,

10
  • after English friends had purchased his freedom.
    At Rochester, N.Y., he established the North Star
    and edited it for 17 years in the abolitionist
    cause. Unlike William L. Garrison, he favored the
    use of political methods and thus became a
    follower of James G. Birney. In the Civil War he
    helped organize two regiments of Massachusetts
    African Americans and urged other blacks to join
    the Union ranks. During Reconstruction he
    continued to urge civil rights for African
    Americans. He was secretary of the Santo Domingo
    Commission (1871), marshal of the District of
    Columbia (1877-81), recorder of deeds for the
    same district (1881-86), and minister to Haiti
    (1889-91). Life and Times of Frederick Douglass
    (1962) is a revised edition of his autobiography,
    which has also been published as My Bondage and
    My Freedom.

11
  • 2. Douglass major works
  • Writing A Narrative of the Life of Frederick
    Douglass, an American Slave (1845)
  • My Bondage and My Freedom (1855)
  • Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881,
    revised 1892)
  • Speeches "The Church and Prejudice"
  • Self-Made Men
  • "Speech at National Hall, Philadelphia July 6,
    1863 for the Promotion of Colored Enlistments"
  • "What to a slave is the 4th of July?"

12
  • 3.Masterpiece My Bondage and My Freedom
  • ?Introduction My Bondage and My
  • Freedom is an autobiographical slave
  • narrative written by Frederick Douglass
  • and published in 1855. It is the second
  • of three autobiographies written by
  • Douglass, and is mainly an expansion of his first
    (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass),
    discussing in greater detail his transition from
    bondage to liberty. Douglass, a former slave,
    following his liberation went on to become a
    prominent abolitionist, speaker, author, and
    publisher.
  • In his foreword to the 2003 Modern Library
    paperback edition, John Stauffer writes My
    Bondage and My Freedom, is a deep meditation
    on the meaning of slavery, race, and freedom, and
    on the power of faith and literacy, as well as a
    portrait of an individual and a nation a few
    years before the Civil War.

13
My Bondage and My Freedom
  • As his narrative unfolds, Frederick
    Douglassabolitionist, journalist, orator, and
    one of the most powerful voices to emerge from
    the American civil rights movementtransforms
    himself from slave to fugitive to reformer,
    leaving behind a legacy of social, intellectual,
    and political thought. The 1855 text includes
    Douglasss original Appendix, composed of
    excerpts from the authors speeches as well as a
    letter he wrote to his former master.
  • ?Significance His book, My Bondage and My
    Freedom, an autobiography, relates, as its title
    suggests, the archetypal story of African
    Americans escaping from their cruel and wicked
    white masters to emancipation. It is a moving and
    historically interesting book. Douglass was very
    articulate and spoke, as he did so for himself,
    of the ambitions and feelings of the African
    American race. Always popular, the book has never
    been out of print. It was later expanded into The
    Life and Times of Frederick Douglass to include
    his Civil War experience.

14
Booker T. Washington (1856-1915)
  • 1.Life
  • (born April 5, 1856, Franklin county, Va., U.S.
  • died Nov. 14, 1915, Tuskegee, Ala.) U.S.
  • educator and reformer. Born into slavery,
  • he moved with his family to West Virginia
  • after emancipation. He worked from age nine, then
    attended (1872 75) and joined the staff of the
    Hampton (Va.) Normal and Agricultural Institute.
    In 1881 he was selected to head the Tuskegee
    Normal and Industrial Institute, a new
    teacher-training school for African Americans,
    and he successfully transformed it into a
    thriving institution (later Tuskegee University).
    He became perhaps the most prominent African
    American leader of his time. His controversial
    conviction that African Americans could best gain
    equality in the U.S. by improving their economic
    situation through education rather than by
    demanding equal rights was termed the Atlanta
    Compromise. His books include Up from Slavery
    (1901).

15
  • 2. Washingtons major works
  • Black-Belt Diamonds Gems From the Speeches,
    Addresses, and Talks to the Students of Booker T.
    Washington, Fortune Scott, 1898.
  • The Future of the American Negro, Small,
    Maynard, 1899.
  • (With Edgar Webber) The Story of My Life and Work
    (autobiography), J. L. Nichols, 1900.
  • (With Max Bennett Thrasher) Up From Slavery
    (autobiography), A. L. Burt, 1901.
  • Character Building (lectures), Doubleday, 1902.
  • Working With the Hands (autobiography),
    Doubleday, 1904.
  • The Negro in Business, Hertel, Jenkins, 1907.
  • The Story of the Negro The Rise of the Race From
    Slavery, 2 volumes, Doubleday, 1909.
  • Selected Speeches of Booker T. Washington,
    edited by E. Davidson Washington, Doubleday,
    1932.

16
  • W. E. B. DuBois (1868-1963)
  • W. E. B. DuBois was the intellectual leader of
    African
  • American protest at that time. DuBois went to
    Harvard
  • where he became the first African American to
    receive
  • a Ph. D., and later did further studies at the
    University
  • of Berlin. A sociologist and a historian, he was
    also a
  • prolific writer. He wrote dozens of books, a book
    of
  • poetry, novels, essays, and some autobiography.
    His
  • most influential book, The Souls of Black Folks
    is Essays and Sketches (1903),DuBois helped to
    found a movement, the National Association for
    the Advancement of Colored People, the
    organization which fought more than any other for
    civil rights. However, from the 1920s, he decided
    that to fight for the African Americans in the
    United States was a lost game. This led to his
    developing the Pan-African movement and, later,
    in 1961, to his joining the Communist Party. At
    the age of 94 he became a citizen of Ghana. His
    name is closely associated with the African
  • Americans struggle for freedom.

17
  • Countee Cullen (19031946)
  • His precocious success may have been one of the
  • signals of the coming of the Harlem Renaissance.
  • Cullen was well educated at New York University
  • and Harvard. With his poem "Shroud of Color"
  • appearing in H. L. Mencken's American Mercury
  • in 1924, and the publication of the first three
  • volumes of poetry, Color (1925), Copper Sun
  • (1927), and The Ballad of the Brown Girl (1927),
    he was probably the most popular African American
    poet and African American literary figure in
    America at the time. Cullen was traditional in
    form. He could handle "white verse"--ballads,
    sonnets, quatrains etc. very well. There are
    skill and power in his work. Thematically, he
    deals with the African American experience
    seriously, often from a religious perspective.
    For a long time after his death, he was ignored,
    but fresh interest in his poetry has appeared in
    recent years, and his works have been reissued.
    His often-anthologized poem is "Yet Do I Marvel."
    The poet marvels at how inscrutable God's ways
    are to "make a poet Black, and bid him sing!"
    Here is some ambiguity of feeling well portrayed
    the poet is very self-conscious and probably
    pleased and proud that he as a black person could
    write and that he was equal with others including
    the whites before God.

18
Langston Hughes (19021967)
  • 1.Life and Career
  • ?(born Feb. 1, 1902, Joplin, Mo., U.S. died May
  • 22, 1967, New York, N.Y.) U.S. poet and writer.
  • He published the poem "The Negro Speaks of
  • Rivers" when he was 19, briefly attended
  • Columbia University, and worked on an
  • Africa-bound freighter. His literary career was
    launched when Hughes, working as a busboy,
    presented his poems to Vachel Lindsay as he
    dined. Hughes's poetry collections include The
    Weary Blues (1926) and Montage of a Dream
    Deferred (1951). His later The Panther and the
    Lash (1967) reflects black anger and militancy.
    Among his other works are short stories
    (including "The Ways of White Folks," 1934),
    autobiographies, many works for the stage,
    anthologies, and translations of poetry by
    Federico García Lorca and Gabriela Mistral. His
    well-known comic character Jesse B. Semple,
    called Simple, appeared in his newspaper columns.

19
  • ?In the Harlem Renaissance Langston Hughes was
    known as African Americans' poet laureate, who
    ultimately outgrew the movement, and developed
    into one of the major African American authors to
    help make African American culture.5 Hughes loved
    literature. Hughes became known as "the busboy
    poet." In1926,Hughes put his poems together in a
    book, entitled The Weary Blues. This collection
    marks a stage in Hughes' development as an
    author. The poems, like the blues songs, are sad
    in tone, describing the fact of having to live in
    a very cruel and oppressive world. But there is
    not much fight in them. Merely describing how
    things are, they read as if Hughes were trying to
    relieve himself and his race of a mental load and
    to achieve a degree of reconciliation with the
    wicked world. In 1935 Hughes became one of the
    key speakers at the American Writers' Conference.
    From then on his influence as an author was felt
    everywhere and his production was tremendous.
    Novels, poems, plays, essays, translations, an
    autobiography--all these simply

20
  • poured out of him. He was one of the founders of
    the black theater in the Federal Theater Project
    during the Depression. He was the editor of a
    good many anthologies of African American
    literature. And more than anybody else in the
    history of the country, he encouraged other
    African American writers to write.
  • ?Author of poetry, long and short fiction, plays,
    nonfiction, and autobiography. In early years,
    worked as assistant cook, launderer, busboy, and
    at other odd jobs worked as seaman on voyages to
    Africa and Europe lived at various times in
    Mexico, France, Italy, Spain, and the Soviet
    Union. Madrid correspondent for Baltimore
    Afro-American, 1937 visiting professor in
    creative writing, Atlanta University, 1947
    poet-in-residence, Laboratory School, University
    of Chicago, 1949.

21
  • 2. Hughes major works
  • Poetry The Weary Blues, Knopf, 1926.
  • The Dream Keeper and Other Poems, Knopf, 1932.
  • Montage of a Dream Deferred, Holt, 1951.
  • Fiction The Ways of White Folks (stories),
    Knopf, 1934.
  • Simple Speaks His Mind (stories), Simon and
    Schuster, 1950.
  • Simple Takes a Wife (stories), Simon and
    Schuster, 1953.
  • Simple Stakes a Claim (stories), Rinehart, 1957.
  • Simple's Uncle Sam (stories), Hill and Wang,
    1965.
  • Plays Mulatto, New York City, 1935.
  • Little Ham, Cleveland, 1936.
  • Black Nativity, New York City, 1961.

22
3.Masterpiece"The Negro Speaks of Rivers"
  • I've known rivers
  • Ive known rivers ancient as the world and older
    than the flow of human blood in human veins.
  • My soul has grown deep like the rivers.
  • I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
  • I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to
    sleep.
  • I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids
    above it.
  • I heard the singing of Mississippi when Abe
    Lincoln
  • went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
    bosom turn all golden in the sunset.
  • Ive known rivers.
  • Ancient, dusky rivers.
  • My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

23
  • ?The comment of Onwuchekwa Jemie "The Negro
    Speaks of Rivers" is perhaps the most profound of
    these poems of heritage and strength. Composed
    when Hughes was a mere 17 years old, and
    dedicated to W. E. B. DuBois, it is a sonorous
    evocation of transcendent essences so ancient as
    to appear timeless, predating human existence,
    longer than human memory. The rivers are part of
    God's body, and participate in his immortality.
    They are the earthly analogues of eternity deep,
    continuous, mysterious. They are named in the
    order of their association with black history.
    The black man has drunk of their life-giving
    essences, and thereby borrowed their immortality.
    He and the rivers have become one. The magical
    transformation of the Mississippi from mud to
    gold by the sun's radiance is mirrored in the
    transformation of slaves into free men by
    Lincoln's Proclamation (and, in Hughes's poems,
    the transformation of shabby cabarets into
    gorgeous palaces, dancing girls into queens and
    priestesses by the spell of black music). As the
    rivers deepen with time, so does the black man's
    soul as their waters ceaselessly flow, so will
    the black soul endure. The black man has seen the
    rise and fall of civilizations from the earliest
    times, seen the beauty and death-changes of the
    world over the thousands of years, and will
    survive even this America. The poem's meaning is
    related to Zora Neale Hurston's judgment of the
    mythic High John de Conquer, whom she held as a
    symbol of the triumphant spirit of black

24
  • America that John was of the "Be" class. "Be
    here when the ruthless man comes, and be here
    when he is gone." In a time and place where black
    life is held cheap and the days of black men
    appear to be numbered, the poem is a majestic
    reminder of the strength and fullness of history,
    of the source of that life which transcends even
    ceaseless labor and burning crosses.
  • ? The comment of Jean Wagner "The Negro Speaks
    of Rivers" heralded the existence of a mystic
    union of Negroes in every country and every age.
    It pushed their history back to the creation of
    the world, and credited them with possessing a
    wisdom no less profound than that of the greatest
    rivers of civilization that humanity had ever
    known, from the Euphrates to the Nile and from
    the Congo to the Mississippi.
  • ?The comment of Joyce A. Joyce Hughes captures
    the African American's historical journey to
    America in what is perhaps his signature poem,
    "The Negro Speaks of Rivers." Dedicated to W E.
    B. Du Bois and using water or the river as a
    metaphor for the source of life, the poem traces
    the movement of black life from the Euphrates and
    Nile rivers in Africa to the

25
  • Mississippi. Hughes subtly couches his
    admonishment of slavery and racism in the refrain
    "My soul has grown deep like the rivers." The
    first time the line appears in the poem it
    follows the poet's assertion that he has known
    rivers "ancient as the world and older than the
    flow of / human blood in human veins." The poet
    here identifies himself and his blackness with
    the first human beings. The second and only other
    time the line appears in the poem occurs after
    the poet has made reference to Mississippi, New
    Orleans, and Abe Lincoln. He places the lines "My
    soul has grown deep like the rivers" at the end
    of the poem, this time suggesting that he is no
    longer the same man who "bathed in the Euphrates"
    and "built his hut near the Congo." He is now a
    black man who has experienced the pain of slavery
    and racism, and his soul now bears the imprint of
    these experiences.

26
  • 4.Themes
  • Hughes's thematic concerns go far beyond racial
    issues. He wrote in praise of the October
    Revolution, sympathized with the Chinese and
    their revolution, and visited Spain and wrote to
    support the Spanish people in their fight against
    the Fascist regime of Franco. In form Hughes'
    poetry is noted for its fresh simplicity and its
    notable features of the free verse of Whitman,
    Sandburg, and Paul Dunbar (1872-1906). Hughes was
    heir to the tradition of the African American
    folklore and jazz and wrote in a brisk, rhythmic
    manner so that many of his poems have become
    popular songs. His creative career has helped, in
    no small way, pave the way for the further
    development of African American literature.

27
Richard Wright (19081960)
  • 1.Life and career
  • ?(born Sept. 4, 1908, near Natchez, Miss., U.S.
  • died Nov. 28, 1960, Paris, France) U.S. novelist
    and
  • short-story writer. Wright, whose grandparents
    had
  • been slaves, grew up in poverty. After migrating
  • north he joined the Federal Writers' Project in
    Chicago, then moved to New York City in 1937. He
    was a member of the Communist Party in the years
    1932 44. He first came to wide attention with a
    volume of novellas, Uncle Tom's Children (1938).
    His novel Native Son (1940), though considered
    shocking and violent, became a best-seller. The
    fictionalized autobiography Black Boy (1945)
    vividly describes his often harsh childhood and
    youth. After World War II he settled in Paris. He
    is remembered as one of the first African
    American writers to protest white treatment of
    blacks.

28
  • ?Published first story, "The Voodoo of Hell's
    Half Acre," 1924 worked variously as a
    dishwasher, busboy, porter, street sweeper, and
    group leader for a Chicago Boys Club worked for
    U.S. Postal Service, Chicago, beginning in1932
    wrote poetry for leftist publications attended
    American Writers' Congress, New York City, 1935
    prepared guidebooks for Federal Writer's Project,
    mid-1930s worked for Federal Theater Project,
    1936 wrote for the Daily Worker, late 1930s
    published Uncle Tom's Children, 1938 published
    Native Son, 1940 published autobiography Black
    Boy, 1945 lectured, appeared on radio and
    television, and contributed to periodicals, late
    1940s attended Bandung Conference in Indonesia,
    1955.

29
  • 2. Wrights major works
  • Uncle Tom's Children Four Novellas, Harper
    Brothers, 1938.
  • Native Son, Harper Brothers, 1940.
  • Black Boy A Record of Childhood and Youth,
    Harper Brothers, 1945.

30
  • 3.Masterpiece Native Son
  • ?Story The plot is divided into three parts
    1.Fear   2.Flight   3.Fate. Bigger Thomas, no
    father, lived with his mother, brother and sister
    in a kitchen net.One morning, his sister found a
    big rat and Bigger was asked to beat it to death.
    The rat is facing death and had a death struggle.
    It ran up into Biggers trouser. He was so angry
    that he still beat it though it was already
    dead.Bigger went to work in the white Doltons as
    a driver. Mrs. Doltons was blind and often
    encouraged him to finish his education. One day,
    Mary, Mrs. Doltons daughter, asked him to send
    her to her boyfriend who was a communist. Mary
    got overdrunk. Bigger carried her to her bedroom.
    Just then Mrs. Doltons appeared, he put a pillow
    on Marys mouth in order that his owner couldnt
    misunderstand him.   As a result, Mary died after
    Mrs. Daltons left. He put Mary into a furnace to
    burn her body.After that, Thomas escaped.
    Biggers girlfriend persuaded him to go to the
    police office. However, he killed his girlfriend
    in case she might betray him. Marys boyfriend
    sent a lawyer to defend Bigger. But no matter how
    hard, Bigger was still sentenced to electric
    chair. Ironically, he was more condemned for
    killing Mary incidentally rather than his
    purposely killing his black girlfriend. 

31
  • Native Son
  • ?Characterization of Bigger Thomas A. Bad
    nigger blacks are always the victims, they are
    persecuted and lynched in other writings.
    However, bigger is a rebellious figure, because
    he is someone who kills and who is violent.B. A
    victim of society, rats confrontation with
    Bigger is the metaphor of Biggers confrontation
    with society. In the latter part, Bigger is
    weaker. Thats why the last chapter is called
    Fate. He is so powerless compared to the white
    society. Violence is his self-affirmation. Here
    we can see the authors theme. C. Bigger is
    modern American. Bigger is a product of America,
    or the native son of the land. He is dispossessed
    and disinherited man. Modern world is a world of
    alienation not only to blacks but also to whites.
    Biggers experience can be everybodys experience
    in a sense. he responds to the world's
    anticipation."

32
Native Son
  • ?Significance Native Son is an extremely
    fascinating book. It simply exploded on the
    sensibility of the American reading public.
    Dealing with one of the thorniest problems with
    which America had been beleaguered, the racial
    question, the book pushed it into the reader's
    mind in a manner no one had ever done before. For
    the African Americans the message is clear, that
    they are human beings and should be treated as
    such, and that if nothing else can help to assert
    their dignity and identity, then it is legitimate
    to resort to violence. For the whites, the
    message is equally clear, that the moment has
    arrived when they have to come to terms with
    their African American fellowmen, and that, if
    they are not ready yet, they have got to be quick
    or they will have to take the consequences.
    Bigger Thomas, the hero of the book, embodies a
    new type of African American personality.
    Rebellious by nature, he never is able to feel at
    peace with the world in which he finds himself.
    The vehement violence which breaks out of him and
    which eventually leads him to the electric chair
    has been brewing in the bosom of his race for
    over three

33
Native Son
  • centuries, ever since the first of his ancestors
    were brought to the land of their enslavement
    over three centuries ago. The bitterness has
    fermented, and the patience and humility of the
    African Americans are not inexhaustible. If not
    given the recognition that is due to them, the
    African Americans are perfectly ready to take the
    law into their own hands. Thus Bigger Thomas,
    more than any other African American fictional
    figures, represents a higher level of African
    American racial awareness. In him and his
    actions, the African Americans saw their identity
    and the whites their folly and obligation.

34
Ralph Ellison(19141994)
  • 1.Life
  • (Ralph Waldo Ellison), 1914-94, African-American
  • author, b. Oklahoma City, Okla. studied
    Tuskegee
  • Inst. (now Tuskegee Univ.). Originally a trumpet
  • player and aspiring composer, he moved (1936) to
  • New York City, where he met Langston Hughes,
  • who became his mentor, and became friends with
  • Richard Wright, who radicalized his thinking.
  • Ellison's earliest published writings were
    reviews
  • and stories in the politically radical New Masses
    magazine. His literary reputation rests almost
    completely on one novel, Invisible Man (1952). A
    classic of American literature, it draws upon the
    author's experiences to detail the harrowing
    progress of a nameless young black man struggling
    to live in a hostile society. Ellison also
    published two collections of essays, Shadow and
    Act (1964) and Going to the Territory (1986). His
    collected essays were published in 1995, and a
    volume of stories appeared in 1996. For many
    years Ellison struggled with the writing of a
    second novel, sections of which appeared
    (1960-77) in magazines, but it was still
    uncompleted at his death. Condensing the
    sprawling mass of text and notes written over
    four decades, his literary executor assembled the
    novel Juneteenth, which was published in 1999.

35
  • 2.MaasterpieceInvisible Man
  • ?Story Speaking from the hole in the ground
  • which he says is "like a grave," he relates his
  • bitter experience of having lived a death of a
  • life for some twenty years until he discovered
  • his invisibility. He tells us how he began life
  • with great expectations and won the approval of
    the whites of his region who, pleased with his
    humility, sent him with a scholarship to a state
    college for Negroes in order to "Keep this
    Nigger-Boy Running." Tliere he became the protrg6
    of Dr. Bledsoe, the president, who, however,
    expelled him for having shown a white benefactor
    of the institution around places unfit for his
    eyes. Next he went to New York where, as the
    administration stipulates, blacks should be
    "invisible." What he tried to do was to be seen.
    In a factory on Long Island he incurred the
    displeasure of his fellow workers unintentionally
    in a disturbance. Later, on the occasion of an
    old African American couple being driven out of a
    fiat, he made a radical speech which subsequently
    put him in touch

36
Invisible Man
  • with a "brotherhood," a Communist affiliation,
    but he was amazed to find that the brotherhood
    saw the cause of the African Americans only as
    one of so many pawns on its chessboard. His
    dreams all evaporated, and he went into
    "hibernation" in an underground cellar. It is
    from there that he speaks.
  • ?Significance Invisible Man is immensely
    interesting as a work of art. It is more than a
    "protest novel." Ellison's vision is too great
    and his taste is too catholic to allow his book
    to remain merely on that level. There is, on the
    one hand, good reason toread the novel as one
    African American book on racial discrimination,
    black-white relationship, and the rebellious
    stance that the African American protagonist
    evinces toward an unjust and repressive society.
    Indeed, the book has been read that way. On the
    other hand, Invisible Man means much more than
    that. It covers a much more extensive territory
    of life, so that it transcends race and racial
    relations, and goes beyond protest to a new phase
    of perception in the evolution of the African
    American awareness. In so doing, what happens to

37
Invisible Man
  • an African American becomes a metaphor, a
    formula, or even a paradigm for all humankind.
    This is ultimately the reason why Invisible Man
    has appealed to its readers so much for so long.
  • ?Consummate craft The formal and technical
    resourcefulness that it exhibits is simply
    amazing. To begin with, the symbolism of the book
    is impressive and fascinating. It may have owed
    its title to H. G. Wells' The Invisible Man, but
    it is more than that. The art of the book is
    ultimately Ellison's own. The notion of
    invisibility, the overriding symbol all through
    the novel, appears to be metaphysical at first
    because difficult to identify with immediately,
    but with some stretch of the imagination on the
    part of the readers, it becomes alarmingly
    physical and true as a universal fact of life. It
    forces all people to think and contemplate about
    their own situation. Then wenotice, among other
    things, the exquisite skill with Welch Ellison
    manipulates his prose style. This changes
    deliberately with the change of the narrator's
    environment from the South to the North and
    finally to his place of hibernation somewhere in
    New York City. As Ellison himself professes, he
    dreamed

38
Invisible Man
  • somewhere in New York City. As Ellison himself
    professes, he dreamed of a flexible and swift
    style, at once facing the brutal experience of
    modern man and expressing hope, human fraternity,
    and individual self-realization. It is a style
    which uses all the resources of the language, its
    riches, its idiomatic expression and the
    rhetorical flourishes from past periods still
    alive today.

39
James Baldwin(1924-1987)
  • 1.Life and career
  • ?James Baldwin was born in Harlem, New York
  • City, on August 2, 1924, the oldest of nine
  • children. His father was a lay preacher in the
  • Holiness-Pentecostal sect, and at the age of
  • 14 Baldwin was also ordained a preacher. At
  • 18 he graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School,
    and in 1944 he met Richard Wright, who helped
    secure a fellowship that allowed Baldwin the
    financial freedom to devote himself solely to
    literature. By 1948 Baldwin had concluded that
    the social tenor of the United States was
    stifling his creativity, and he went to Europe
    with the financial assistance of a Rosenwald
    fellowship. In Europe, Baldwin completed Go Tell
    It on the Mountain (1953), Notes of a Native Son
    (1955), and Giovanni's Room (1956).

40
  • ?Wrote first book review for New Challenge in
    1937 worked for Federal Writers' Project and
    wrote for various publications, 1938-42 managing
    editor, Negro Quarterly, 1942 continued
    contributing book reviews and short stories to
    periodicals through mid-1940s began work on
    novel, Invisible Man, 1945 Invisible Man
    published, 1952 lectured in Europe, 1954
    resided in Rome, 1955-57 taught Russian and
    American literature at Bard College, 1958-61
    visiting professor at University of Chicago and
    at Rutgers and Yale universities, early 1960s
    Gertrude Whittall Lecturer, Library of Congress,
    and Ewing Lecturer, University of California, Los
    Angeles, both 1964 fire at summer home in
    Plainsfield, MA, destroyed 350 text pages of
    unfinished novel, 1967 served as Albert
    Schweitzer Professor of Humanities at New York
    University, 1970-80.

41
  • 2. Baldwins major works
  • Fiction Go Tell It on the Mountain, Knopf,
    1953.
  • Giovanni's Room, Dial, 1956.
  • Another Country, Dial, 1962.
  • Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone, Dial,
    1968.
  • Nonfiction Notes of a Native Son, Beacon Press,
    1955.
  • Nobody Knows My Name More Notes of a Native Son,
    Dial, 1961.
  • The Fire Next Time, Dial, 1963.

42
  • 3.Masterpiece Go Tell It on the Mountain
  • ?Story It consists of three sections, all about
  • a boy, John Grimes, now 14, trying to define
  • himself against his background--his father,
  • his church, etc. Section one, "The Seventh Day,
  • " describes him wandering on the morning of
  • His 14th birthday, wondering whether anyone
  • bothers to remember it. As he moves around
  • with the few coins his mother has given him for
    the occasion, he remembers how unkind his father
    has been to him. He feels lonely and sad. Section
    two, "The Prayers of the Saints," records the sad
    lives of John's aunt Florence and his mother,
    Elizabeth, and the sad but selfish behavior of
    his father, Gabriel. The section serves as a
    footnote to the wretched lives of the family and
    especially to the nervous relationship between
    John and his father. John's biological father
    committed suicide in prison, and Gabriel is his
    stepfather. The last section of the novel, "The
    Threshing Floor," recounts the process of John's
    salvation through conversion, but ends with John
    not feeling much better.

43
Go Tell It on the Mountain
  • ?Theme Thematically, Baldwin's book relates the
    galling reality of African American life against
    a historical background which shows that the
    African Americans as a race have been over the
    centuries trying to attain to self-recognition
    and emotional and psychological maturity. The
    growth of John Grimes undergoes stages which
    associate his earlier memories of Sunday mornings
    with those of other characters like Florence,
    Gabriel, and Elizabeth, all memories Of pain and
    suffering peculiar to an enslaved people. What
    Baldwin calls in the second part of his book,
    "The Prayers of the Saints," reaches the height
    of its pathos when "Elizabeth's Prayer" begins
    with Elizabeth's pathetic "Lord, I wish I had of
    died/ In Egypt Land!" Baldwin is telling his
    people in powerful modern language that they are
    suffering an age-old injustice, and that they
    must fight this injustice as best as they can.
    The power of this book lies in the fact that the
    reader is forever kept conscious of an oppressed
    race groaning and struggling for salvation.

44
Go Tell It on the Mountain
  • ?style and language The theme of the book is
    reinforced by its style and its language, which
    remind one constantly of the Old Testament, with
    the Bible staying in the back of the reader's
    mind. We notice some semblance of a
    stream-of-consciousness technique at work,
    especially in the second part of the book.
    Nevertheless, the bit sand fragments of the lives
    of the Grimeses come to the reader as a whole,
    gradually pieced together through the church
    service and the prayers. Then there is the major
    symbolism of the book to consider. It merits
    particular attention because it is powerful as it
    tells a truth in a forthright manner. As we noted
    earlier on, Gabriel calls his own son Roy. He
    would like to see Roy lying on the ground in the
    church where John lies on the night of
    conversion. John is to him a kind of Ishmael, not
    of the royal line. All the time, Gabriel is fully
    aware that he is a stepfather and behaves well as
    one. This relationship between father and son can
    be seen, in a way, to signify something of a
    broader, more national magnitude. It can be
    symbolic of the place of the African Americans in
    the nation of the United States. It reveals the
    clear image of the country behaving to its black
    offspring like a stepfather. The African
    Americans have felt the way they have because of
    this unjust treatment.

45
Amiri Baraka (1934-)
  • 1.Life and career
  • Born as Everett LeRoi Jones in Newark, New
  • Jersey, on October 30, 1934, Baraka studied
  • at Rutgers, Columbia, and Howard universities
  • and at the New School for Social Research.
  • After taking a bachelor of arts degree at Howard
  • in 1953, he spent two years in the U.S. Air
    Force in Puerto Rico. Baraka's life may be
    divided into two major periods. As a resident of
    New York City's Greenwich Village, LeRoi Jones
    led the life of a typical white American. He
    married a caucasian woman, Hettie Cohen, and they
    had two children. He and his wife published
    Yugen, a poetry magazine, and he coedited a
    literary newsletter, Floating Bear. Jones's
    political commitment began when he visited Cuba
    in 1960.
  • In 1965 Jones moved to Harlem and began the
    second period of his life. Here he lived a
    totally African American and separatist life. As
    founder and director of the Black Arts Repertory
    Theatre School, he made every aspect of his life
    "black" and opposite to the "white" life he had
    previously known.

46
  • 2. Barakas major works
  • Poetry Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide
    Note( 1961)
  • The Dead Lecturer (1964)
  • Play Dutchman and The Slave (1964)
  • Novel The System of Dante's Hell (1965)
  • Tales (1967)
  • Studies Negro Music in White America (1963)
  • African American Music (1967)
  • Raise Race Rays Raze Essays Since 1965 (1971)
  • The Motion of History and Other Plays (1978)

47
  • 3.Influece
  • Amiri Baraka knows what he should do as an
    African American artist. In one of his essays he
    states categorically that the mission of an
    African American artist is to help destroy the
    America as he knows it. He writes with a view to
    reaching and moving people, and writes so as to
    unite art and politics. Thus his writings,
    poetry, drama, and essays, especially of the more
    recent period, are fired with revolutionary
    ideology and possess a "clear revolutionary
    edge," so that they pierce like swords and knives
    into the "sinful" body of American society. Amiri
    Baraka was one of the masterminds of the Black
    Arts Movement which flourished during the whole
    of the 1960s and the early 1970s, and which
    associated Black arts with the concept of Black
    power. As one of the most eloquent exponents of
    the radical African American stance with regard
    to white-dominated America, Amiri Baraka has been
    very influential on the post-1960s African
    American writing. Amid Baraka has been a prolific
    writer.

48
Toni Morrison (1931-)
  • 1.Life and career
  • ?She was born in Northern Ohio and was
  • educated at Howard University and Cornell
  • University. She began writing in the early
  • 1960s and published her first novel, The
  • Bluest Eye in 1970. Since then she has
  • written quite a few works of importance such as
    Sula (1973), Song of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby
    (1981), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), and Paradise
    (1998). Morrison is an award-winning writer. The
    many literary awards include the National Book
    Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award,
    the Pulitzer Prize, and the Nobel Prize for
    literature in 1993. She is an international
    celebrity.

49
  • ?Writer. Texas Southern University, Houston,
    instructor in English, 1955-57Howard University,
    Washington, DC, instructor in English, 1957-64
    Random House, New York City, senior editor,
    1965-85 State University of New York at
    Purchase, associate professor of English,
    1971-72 State University of New York at Albany,
    Schweitzer Professor of the Humanities, 1984-89
    Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, Robert F.
    Goheen Professor of the Humanities,1989--.
    Visiting lecturer, Yale University, 1976-77, and
    Bard College,1986-88 Clark Lecturer at Trinity
    College, Cambridge, and Massey Lecturerat Harvard
    University, both 1990.
  • 2. Morrisons major works
  • Sula (1973)
  • Song of Solomon (1977)
  • Tar Baby (1981)
  • Beloved (1987)
  • Jazz (1992)
  • Paradise (1998)

50
  • 3.Masterpieces Song of Solomon
  • ?It tells the story of an African American trying
    to recover his family roots. Set in a small town
    in Michigan, the story covers the one hundred
    years of African American history from the Civil
    War through the 1960s.
  • ?Themes A major theme in the novel is Milkman's
    quest for identity as a black man in the
    20th-century United States, as he slowly tries to
    piece together the history of his ancestors,
    which he achieves by journeying into his father
    and aunt's past, searching for origins.
    Names-their sources and meanings-also tie into
    this larger search for identity.
  • The novel is written in the third person, but the
    narrative weaves in and out of different
    character viewpoints, beliefs,

51
  • Song of Solomon
  • and psychologies. The reader is given insight
    into Macon and Pilate's early lives together, as
    well as an understanding of their personal
    history and of the effects of slavery on the Dead
    family, including Milkman. The search for
    identity, the effects
  • of geographical displacement on African
    Americans, and the effects of distorted love all
    play out as important themes in the novel.
    Another major theme is the idea that the
    individual must find freedom from not only saving
    himself.
  • Furthermore, throughout the novel, flight is
    presented as one of the only ways to achieve
    freedom in an otherwise stifling world. Although
    the exact meaning of flight, in both the literal
    and the figurative sense, changes as the novel
    progresses, Milkman's fascination with flight
    remains constant.

52
Beloved
  • ?It is based on the true antebellum story of a
    slave mother, Margaret Garner, killing her own
    children just for them to avoid slavery.
    "Beloved" in Morrison's novel is the word
    inscribed onthe tombstone of the child killed by
    its mother. Nineteen-year-old Sethe Suggs, a
    runaway slave mother, is about to be captured by
    her pursuers. She decides to kill all her
    children so that they would not have to suffer
    the way she had as a slave. She succeeds in
    slashing the throat of the youngest two-year-old
    baby girl and is caught and serves a prison
    sentence. Then she gives birth to her daughter
    Denver, and works as a cook. Eighteen years pass,
    and Beloved as a baby ghost comes to haunt her
    mother's house at 124 Bluestone Road. She manages
    to drive her two brothers away, but is chased
    away by Paul D., her mother's former fellow
    slave. Beloved reappears, however, in human form,
    as a twenty-year-old girl, beautiful and
    freakish, capable of metamorphosis and of
    becoming invisible. She keeps following her
    mother around, harassing her with disturbing
    questions, making incessant demands for stories
    and for food, and accusing her of abandoning her.
    Sethe is on the brink of both physical and
    emotional collapse. Her daughter Denver asks for
    the help of the community, which respond and
    eventually drive the ghost away by singing a song
    of exorcism. Sethe is still disintegrating, but
    Paul D. returns to inject the desire for life in
    her.

53
Beloved
  • ?Writing feature The major formal feature of
    Beloved is the use of magic realism. Morrison's
    ghost does not make the book a ghost story. There
    is this obvious magic and supernatural element in
    the narrative first the baby ghost causing
    strange voices, lights, and violent shaking, and
    then the ghost assuming actual human form, but
    behaving in uncanny ways, becoming invisible,
    appearing mysteriously, moving Paul D. out of
    Sethe's house, and exhibiting her growing psychic
    powers. This element shocks and jostles readers
    as well the characters out of their normal way of
    living and thinking. It fits well into the larger
    realistic scheme to serve the author's purpose.
  • ? Historical significant It reconstructs history
    through black folk culture and folk tales, and
    brings to life the horrible experience of slavery
    as history. It is a powerful book it not only
    makes African Americans think it compels the
    white segment of the society to face history,
    too. They have to face the harm that racism has
    done to Baby Suggs, Ella, Stamp, as well as Sethe
    and Paul D.,

54
  • to the countless number of African Americans dead
    or living, and to humanity in general. The
    barbaric behavior of "Schoolteacher" and his like
    and the horrors of the system they enforced--the
    Sweet Home which is a veritable hell, the slave
    ship, the human suffering, the indignities to
    which the salves were made to submit, etc.--all
    these should be enough of a reminder, and a
    shock, to all white people that history may be
    ignored or forgotten, but it is ever present in
    all lives as a point of reference.
  • 4.Influence
  • Toni Morrison is a major contemporary American
    writer. She is the foremost author of
    contemporary black women's renaissance, which
    includes, among others, Alice Walker, Gloria
    Naylor, Maya Angelou, Toni Cade Bambara, and
    Gayle Jones. Her oeuvre has drawn the attention
    of her readers to the importance of
    reconstructing history and interpreting the past
    from a racial perspective. She has blazed a new
    trail for her fellow writers.

55
Alice Walker (1944-)
  • 1.Life
  • Alice Walker was born into a sharecropper's
  • family in Eatonton, Georgia. She attended
  • Spelman College in Atalanta, Georgia, and
  • finished her education in Sarah Lawrence
  • College in Bronxville, New York. She began
  • writing in college and published her first
  • works--poems as well as stories--in 1965. Later
    she received fellowships in support of her
    writing career. She has, by virtue of the great
    amount of fiction, poetry, and essays she has
    written over the years, made herself a central
    figure in contemporary American literature. In
    addition to her volumes of poetry and short
    stories, she has published quite a few novels
    such as The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970),
    Meridian (1976), The Color Purple (1982), The
    Temple of My Familiar (1989), and Possessing the
    Secret of Joy (1990). Her greatest achievement so
    far is her novel, The Color Purple, which won for
    her both the American Book Award and the Pulitzer
    Prize.

56
(No Transcript)
57
  • 2. Walkers major works
  • The Third Life of Grange Copeland (1970)
  • Meridian (1976)
  • The Color Purple (1982)
  • The Temple of My Familiar (1989)
  • Possessing the Secret of Joy (1990)
  • 3.Masterpiece The Color Purple
  • ?Introduction The Color Purple is an epistolary
    novel. It consists of 90 letters, of which over
    two thirds (61 in number) Celie wrote to God, 14
    to her sister Nettie, and 15 Nettie wrote to
    Celie. The story centers on Celie's life, with
    Nettie's African adventure as complementary. The
    time frame of the novel covers over thirty years,
    and Celie is now in middle age, in her mid or
    late forties or thereabout.
  • ?Themes The female relationships are friendly
    and sisterly and also sexual. Celie and Sofia
    have a friendly relationship with each other
    because Celie was Sofias stepmother in law, and
    they befriended each other because the men in
    their life treated them poorly. Shug Avery had a
    large number of

58
The Color Purple
  • shallow relationships in her life previous to
    Celie, and Celie had always been in relationships
    that were the product of real or implied threats
    of violence. (relationship)
  • The implication throughout the text is that the
    1930s Georgia was a difficult place to live for
    black people, due to widely-held prejudices
    amongst the white population. Slavery was a
    recent memory. Due to their mistreatment at the
    hands of white people, the characters believe
    that their children are doomed to grow up in a
    racist society, with no hope for improvement.
    Furthermore, Sofia is convinced that due to the
    influence of society's prejudice her children
    will become cynical of everyone around them. The
    black characters have difficulty accepting this
    condition, yet they see no hope of change in the
    future. Alice Walker lived a rather difficult
    life surrounded by white people. (racism)

59
The Color Purple
  • The majority of the men and women involved in the
    story are of the opinion that men should dominate
    women. Harpo feels threatened by his
    strong-willed, defiant wife, Sofia, and tries to
    become physically stronger than her so that he
    can beat her and return things to what he sees as
    their natural order. Throughout the book, women
    are degraded by men and treated as second-class
    citizens. This inequality mirrors the inequality
    between the races. (sexism)
  • ?Significance The Color Purple marks a new phase
    of growth in African American consciousness. It
    raises questions for thought for the African
    Americans they need to get to know themselves
    better and get ready for accountability for their
    own lives. These questions are relevant
    especially now when discrimination has to make
    way for a new life for both races, however
    reluctant it is to vanish into history. The stage
    is getting set for the African Americans to make
    the best of what life offers for them. Harpo
    follows his father's example and achieves
    reconciliation with his wife Sophia. Everybody
    learns about life. The new phase of African
    American awareness is also exhibited in Celie's
    keeping a white man in her employ she learns to
    strike a racial balance. Love flourishes in her
    life. It redeems. This leads and adds to the
    happy ending.

60
Alex Haley (1921-1992)
  • Alex Haley was a journalist and a novelist. His
  • major achievements were the two important
  • books he wrote, The Autobiography of Malcolm
  • X (1965), and Roots (1976). The first of these he
  • collaborated with Malcolm X, and it became
  • probably the most influential African American
  • autobiography of the 20th century. Roots is a
  • novel of over six hundred pages, a finely wrought
    chronicle of an African American family from the
    mid-life the eighteenth century through the time
    of writing. The book marked a new level of
    self-awareness of the African American people as
    a race. Along with its two televised versions, it
    created quite a stir about racism and slavery. A
    painful record of the African American people
    falling into slavery and struggling to survive
    it, the book has produced a shock of recognition
    in readers both black and white, the African
    Americans getting to know their true ancestry,
    and the whites, some of them at least, stirred to
    the depth of their being by the extent of the
    injustice their race was capable of committing.
    Although Haley's influence may be more cultural
    than strictly literary, his Roots has added a new
    dimension to African American literature.

61
Maya Angelou (1928)
  • (born April 4, 1928, St. Louis, Mo., U.S.)
  • U.S. poet. She was raped at age eight
  • and went through a period of muteness.
  • Her autobiographical works, which
  • explore themes of economic, racial,
  • and sexual oppression, include
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1970), The Heart
    of a Woman (1981), and All God's Children Need
    Traveling Shoes (1986). Her poetry collections
    include Just Give Me a Cool Drink of Water 'fore
    I Diiie (1971), And Still I Rise (1978), and I
    Shall Not Be Moved (1990). Her recitation of a
    poem she wrote for Bill Clinton's first
    inauguration (1993) brought her widespread fame.
    In 2002 she published her sixth volume of
    memoirs, A Song Flung Up to Heaven.

62
Gloria Naylor (1950-)
  • Her first novel, The Women of Brewster Place
  • (1982), won the American Book Award for the
  • Best First Novel that year and also the National
  • Book Award. So far she has published five
  • novels--Linden Hills (1985), Mama Day (1988),
  • Bailey's Caf (1992), and her most recent work,
  • Sophhira Wade which is a sequel to Mama Day, and
    a collection of short stories, Men of Brewster
    Place (1998). Naylor is particularly good at
    depicting the lives of the African American
    women. Sensitive to their feelings and problems,
    Naylor portrays their struggles for survival with
    compassion and humor. Her detailed accounts of
    their environments, characterized by poverty,
    sexism, racial and patriarchal oppression, and
    the complexity of interrelationships, offer a
    convincing testimony of her conviction that an
    artist has to stay in contact with their culture
    and heritage. Naylor has a strong sense of place
    in her writing.

63
Toni Cade Bambara (1939-1995)
  • Toni Cade Bambarafought for black
  • America, for black women, and for
  • the ethnic minorities in America.
  • She wrote vehemently against racial
    discrimination and racial stereotyping,
  • and asserted the identity of the African
    Americans in face of Anglo-American culture and
    of some African Americans following the
    mainstream. Her short story collections include
    Gorilla, My Love (1971) and The Sea Birds Are
    Still Alive (1977). Her other works range from
    essays, poems, screenplays, and novels such as
    The Salt Eaters (1982) and If Blessing Comes
    (1987). She also edited two anthologies of
    African American writings. One of her short
    stories,

64
Rita Dove (1952-)
  • She was the first African American poet who
  • was appointed to the position of Poet
  • Laureate of the United States in 1994.
  • Dove writes mainly poetry. Her themes
  • cover African American life and the life
  • of other ethnic groups as well. She sees
  • poetry in the daily lives of the people and
    hears poetry in their daily speech. Her poetry
    appeals by virtue of its lyric, often endearing
    tone. Dove is very often autobiographical, hoping
    to touch the lives of other people by first
    understanding and living her own to the fullest.
    Her collections of poems include The Yellow House
    on the Corner (1980), Museum (1983), Thomas and
    Beulah (1986) which won the Pulitz
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