Black Lit 2 - Test 1 Study Guide
Black Lit 2 - Test 1 Study Guide EH 304
Jacksonville State University
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This 14 page Study Guide was uploaded by Kimberly Burke on Wednesday September 21, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to EH 304 at Jacksonville State University taught by Dr. Felgar in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 21 views. For similar materials see Survey of Black Literature 2 in English at Jacksonville State University.
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Date Created: 09/21/16
Black Lit 2 – Test 1 Black Boy by Richard Wright Richard Wright o Overcame more obstacles to literary achievement than most authors Unhappy family situation At 4 he set his grandparent’s house on fire Countering the belief that black children are naturally happy & not very smart Father abandoned family for mistress Mother equates providing for family with money – defines manhood by money Largely self-educated Went to school through the 9 grade Mississippi sent most tax money to white schools o Blacks taxed twice to pay for school o Only 1 public high school for blacks Control black lives b/c they can’t learn & will ultimately fail Grew up in poverty Different kinds of hunger – physical, love, opportunity, life, adventure, options, knowledge Up against a community that holds young black males down Suggestion that black women are conspiring with white men to hold black men down Mom holds him down to survive – don’t talk back to whites for the safety of the black community at the expense of his pride His will power & ego are powerful – without it he never could have overcome o “Record” but it’s his perspective, wants the reader to approve Slavery & its legacy o Slavery corrupts everything – evil force – undermines o Who came up with the idea that its ok to own other people? 3 Richard Wrights o The author (1908-1960) o Narrator – 1 person talking about character o Character o Collapse of distinctions – terrified that you’ll think he turns out like his father - jumps 25 years in chapter 1 Title – Black Boy Emphasizes his youth Song – “Little Black Boy” o The boy claims the soul of a young white male to be accepted o Discusses the influence of his mother on his life Race – complicated by social class, gender, sexual orientation o Wright thinks the worst fate is being born a black woman with no formal education o Social creation that is convenient for non-blacks o Frederick Douglas – escaped slave should not be turned into his owners – speech causes a riot 1850 Fugitive Slave Law – whites thought it would never apply to them – Douglas claimed a black man could look white o Universal Perspective is undermined by “parking spaces” in life With universal perspective we could park anywhere o Stereotype - root words: hard, unbreakable Chapter 18 o Pg.318 – conversion to Communism Finally felt like he had a home, a place to express himself Until they started telling him when & what to write & dropped out Communism was unsuccessful b/c Marx is affected by social class more than race People put their chips on race Class trumps race in this country Swept off his feet by the prospect of belonging Didn’t realize he was recruited to encourage more black men to join They hoped the oppressed would join b/c of him Didn’t want to be told when & how to write Epigraph – Job suffered; why me attitude o b/c you’re black – easiest way to make social judgment, requires no thought Chapter 12 o Pg.235 – divide & conquer (repeated idea in this course) Get people to fight each other when you’re the problem Harrison & Wright are made to not trust each other b/c of the white workers Keeps people you’re holding down from unifying Fight each other instead of the real problem Exaggeration Stair wet – things you think of after the conversation o Autobiographies are guilty of reporting this for reader approval He exaggerates for effect – seems to be the only sympathetic & unhappy black boy o Seems to claim he lifted himself up without help, but he did have help o Every writer wants you to agree with them Chapter 2 o Pg.37 – paragraphs in parentheses Black people have the same capability for kindness but he’s making outrageous claims Trying to get even with community that did not empathize or just wanted to be outrageous “Western” = north & south America & Europe he has a Eurocentric perspective thinks there is something wrong with black English the book undermines those paragraphs – if his community was so empty, how did he produce the book? – rejecting b/c he was rejected Ethnocentric – judge other cultures based on what you know Hunger “Better” than someone else o Someone is always “better” at something than you o Speaking As a child, Richard spoke black English The author speaks common/standard English to prove he is not one of “them” & tries to please the reader He makes associations with each kind of English, easy social marker o Pg.272-273 – parenthetical arguments Looked down on by people who believe in the trashiest values Chapter 5 – to be seen as more than just a black boy o Pg.136-137 – Narrator looks at or with (identifies/sympathizes) people Distances himself from black families Bases social judgment on dialect – looks down on them Generalization of 100s of people b/c of their dialect Pg.70-71 – instance of physical hunger o Outrageous statement about the black community = they value money over pets Pg.119 – devastated grandmother; hunger for acceptance o Religion provides what religion does not Pg.250 – example of hunger o Denied feelings others access to o Reading + writing + feelings = life Being denied even one makes him feel like a corpse For love o Pg.77 – the orange - Takes all day to eat it; feels unloved, uncared for For trust/notice his trials o Chapter 2 Pg.40-42 – is he being candid/honest? Always the innocent victim, never wrong Keeps repeating that the towel is wet – looking for pity Trying to prove honesty For equality o Pg.71-72 – statements about supernatural & magical For none-white people to make the world make sense they try supernatural Things that work for the white community do not work for the black community Identity Chapter 1 – father, what defines a man st o Pg.3 - 1 reference to adult is a reference to power they have over him o Pg.4 – picture book – most homes don’t have picture books o Pg.5 – will not allow his personality to be submerged by society, truth over authority - Uncontrollable curiosity, does not accept easy answers o Consequence of fire – his mother nearly kills him He trusts no one –even later in life when he hides books in newspapers o Pg.8 – 1 reference to his father is negative – wants us to hate his father as much as he does o Pg.10 – overkill of hatred – sons grow up to demand the attention their father had – treated as #1 in the house, fragile male ego o Pg.11 – got back at father by actually killing the cat – language is powerful Wright is hypersensitive & impressionable o Pg.15 – more ways to define manhood than the ability to make money o Pg.19 – metaphor – white people have been telling blacks forever to eat shit & die o Pg.34-35 – jumps 25 years, emphasizes dad’s social status, looking for selective details to poke fun at his father He’s basically a slave, he couldn’t overcome the world his son had All condemnation & settling scores Keeps mentioning the word plantation We’re all time & place bound/chronocentric & lococentric - you can only do what you see Chapter 6 o Pg.145 – goes to work for a white family He already knows not to compromise white people o Pg.147 – knows the job won’t work out b/c he can’t write He’s going to be a writer no matter what & he is done with people who think otherwise o Pg.149 – claims black people are better at swearing White people are not economical with their swearing Not as meaningful after too much use Chapter 8 o Thinks he can change the world by writing is a middle class way to think but he despises the middle class Confused & conflicted Almost impossible to be the reporter of your own version b/c it would get on people’s nerves if you tell that you’re better & wear a halo o Pg.190 – scholars say Wright quit his job to attend 9 grade He says he quit b/c of mistreatment Excessive use of bad language by whites – loses its power Silence is sometimes better Signifying – double voice Ex) if a white person does something offensive & says “sorry,” & a black person responds with “I can tell you are” o Could mean: can tell you are really sorry or a sorry person Chapter 15 – moves to the north to live in Chicago o Pg.270 – white women would never have gotten near him in the south o Pg.271 – makes generalizations/assumptions about the white waitresses Assumes b/c he didn’t see recognizable signs of passion (fear & hate) that passion didn’t exist in those women Most likely they just didn’t share around him Virtually impossible to be a part of a place & not become a product of it o Lococentric & chronocentric Habit, tradition, repetition = highly challenged o Makes us comfortable & requires no thought Chapter 19 o Pg.256-258 – wants to write about what interests him Black men are destined for ‘greater things’ than the price of bread The price of groceries is important to a black mother Maybe part of the reason he doesn’t want to write about it is b/c of his complicated relationship with his mother – doesn’t want to be reminded of her Prices were deliberately kept higher in black communities b/c they couldn’t shop or live in white communities Political party that represents authority; he respects truth over authority “spy” = word used to create paranoia & ruin trust between blacks Nealsons/Communist comrades don’t respect his writing ambitions Religion Pg.14 – attacks institutionalized religion o Religion = another form of control o His grandmother is Seventh Day Adventist – Wright wasn’t allowed to play on Saturdays o Suggests we created God & he holds us down o He wants evidence, truth, reason Chapter 4 – Religion chapter o Pg.102-103 – he thinks this world is THE world Most people are Platonist – people who agree with Plato’s concept of Reality vs. reality Redundant b/c all “realities” include everything Limit to what language can convey o Talking about religion/supernatural/afterlife is like overflowing a teacup o Taking words from this reality to describe the otherworldly/indescribable Richard believes you should speak clearly or not at all “While listening . . . nothing could happen” – Religion is escapism “My position . . . metaphysical preachments.” Grandmother uses religion like a club He needs to believe to get basic human needs Richard & grandmother are both strong willed To be tolerant is to sometimes accept that you’re wrong He is largely self-educated, most people prefer certainty o Science always stands ready to be disproved & religion does not o Pg.108 – knife fight over beliefs Instance where you expect love & approval but get physical & verbal abuse o Pg.112 – religion is intended to control everything If he has a religion, it’s based on his experiences Forced to go to church b/c of his grandmother o Pg.114-115 – have to believe the same thing to be friends Everyone can play the same game still with no traction Talking for God’s appeal to authority Wright is making a point about authority but doesn’t see the connection to good or bad life & religion = justice is human People try to make the world have meaning Threats are made to get him in line – he believes threats are not an argument o Pg.116-117 – Grandmother hears what she wants She thinks Richard is saying he saw an angel Institutionalized instrument of bewilderment, confuse people to turn to it for answers o Pg.121 – neighbor wants to know why he writes He feels that she is inferior to him Just complained about the same thing for 121 pages but puts her under him Religion o 4 step argument he uses: There is no ultimate authority But if there is, it doesn’t speak to us If it speaks to us, it’s not in a language we understand But if it did speak in a language we understand, we wouldn’t agree on what it meant Language distorts o Absolute certainty is not available to us o He believes we created God rather than God created us o God is a human invention for control o Truth is an argument, not authority Truth – physical text explained by natural explanation – falsifiability principle o He doesn’t believe in after life or pre-existence o Seventh Day Adventist – promises reward later He wants to change the world now, very secular view Believes language is connected to here & now o Religion = to tie things together He understands appeals b/c it provides what reality doesn’t Chapter 6 o Pg.154-155 – religion represents power b/c he was asked in church to agree with his mom – crosses mom in public The price for social acceptance is hypocritical sacrifice People aren’t willing to take that social marker by not joining the church What is worse: conscious or unconscious hypocrisy? Conscious – can help it; unconscious – unaware/can’t help it Expectations for blacks Chapter 13 o Pg.246 – how Richard gets a library pass Writing = freedom Uses a disadvantage as an advantage Plays stupid to fool someone who feels mentally quicker than you Wright pretends to be simple minded to flatter the white librarian Chapter 14 o Pg.257 – original ending point – parts 1 & 2 were not published together until 1991 Wants to move away from the south – physically leaves but not mentally Pg.414-415 – censored in 1945 1945 = end of the World War 2 o government wants the book to end upbeat Talks about the conditions on “upbeat ending” o Going to the north wasn’t as simple as the book ending suggested Even censored he puts a lot of qualifications on it Ends on upbeat note to get published Whites are always right o Pg.274 – sees white cook spit in the soup Doesn’t have enough confidence in his boss believing a black man Doesn’t believe a white person would actually spit in the food Taught to believe that white people do the best & have the best Chapter 9 o Pg.188 – example of what did not appear in censored version (1945) When he works at the optical company “smiling” – always says he can’t dissemble but he does here the white men are actually demeaned here b/c if you can reduce someone to their sex you are not a good person No respect for his feelings Easy to be condescending to an inferior 1850 – The Scarlet Letter – American readers were shocked Hester wasn’t struck by lightning 1845 – Frederick Douglas’ A Narrative of the Life damned bitch had to be written as d____d b___h Difference in taste & standards Chapter 7 o Pg.160-161 – exaggerating his isolation & Uncle Thomas Thomas helped him publish a book & they reconciled – not in book Wright values being better over human feelings Chapter 8 o Pg.174-175 – principal wants to write Richard’s graduation speech He had good reason to not let Wright deliver an unrevised speech nd White politicians offered to build a 2 high school for blacks in Mississippi – Richard could have ruined that Principal tries to bride him with the possibility of a job when threats didn’t work Black women Chapter 11 o Pg.217 – Richard comes in contact with his land lady’s daughter Bess Moss In real life, Richard was married twice – 1 black woman & 1 white woman Takes sexual advantage of other women but not vice versa for his wives Makes assumptions about Bess – talks about her like an animal o Pg.218 – wonders how old Bess is On pg.214 he told us exactly how old she is Black women symbolize all that he doesn’t want to be o Pg.219 – Richard absolutely thinks Bess is nothing “environment”; environmentalism = no one can be anything but the product of their environment Wright is either misrepresenting his environment or not a product Wright has to believe in some exceptions b/c he’s not like his dad Sent his mom money after his 1 book but can’t talk about her in the book b/c it’s painful Part 2 o Pg.293-294 – scheme for fooling black people Schemes are never practiced on black men, only black women Easy to exploit & take advantage of – says a lot about Richard If you don’t want to be a victim don’t be an uneducated, poor black woman Chapter 2 o Pg.62 – attitude toward black women; “dingy palm”; puts the girl beneath him Watch for the version of English he used as a child but shows that he doesn’t use as the narrator/adult Judges people by language & clean hands Gwendolyn Brooks Known for her extreme generosity with her time o Open to giving advice, having workshops, reading her work Writes for a large audience Demanding & provocative Less is more – quiet & omission is more powerful than wordiness characteristic of her poetry – tremendous depth, implies & suggests “the mother” pg.326-327 o Bold start in 1945 with a poem about abortion o Makes the stand that sometimes abortion is the lesser evil o Tony Morrison’s Beloved makes the case of a black woman who drowned 2 of her children b/c anything is better than slavery Convicted of destroying property that is not hers – black children were by law property of the slave owner & not their mothers o A Raisin in the Sun – maternal figure o Ending is a contradiction but she loved the babies enough to keep them from the life worse than death W.E.B. DuBois – black people are involved in a living death The life of a black child is worse than abortion o Children are supposed to be everything to a mother “We Real Cool” pg.337 o to be verbs are omitted – black English o rhyme scheme – a a a a a a a x rhyme is violated at the end as a key part of the poem 3 functions of rhyme: appeals to the ear reflects the poem’s organization – rhyming couplets in this poem reinforces meaning – calls attention to the connection of the lines rhyme is essential to the theme o fewest possible words – elliptical poem (like ellipses) wants the reader to fill in the gap o internal rhyme – inside the lines o this way of life is a dead end o doesn’t yell or use too many words o strategic omission “The Chicago Defender send a Man to Little Rock” pg.337-339 o narrator: newspaper reporter o Chicago Defender = black newspaper o deftly – extreme control, grace, & effectiveness o normal life in Little Rock o based on a real event – the integration of schools o people are polite & considerate of others’ feelings except this 1 time these white people go to church every Sunday but the integration of schools make them satanic people are fine until their beliefs are challenged o the power of the poem is her extreme understatement “Malcolm X” pg.339 o uses X instead of Little as a protest o preached self-sufficiency, defense, & independence o Ok for a white man to carry a gun, but it is a threat when a black man does o 1963 – assassinated o extremely perceptive – physical & mental eyes o “vertical” – he’s thin & tall o “key” - preached self-reliance o self-sufficiency is how she defines being a man A Raisin in the Sun – mother & son definitions of manhood “a song in the front yard” pg.327 o front yard is a big deal to poets – see it as more than a front yard front yard represents respectability back yard represents danger/options/adventure o Poets are moral seismographs (predict earthquakes) More sensitive & perceptive than normal people o Metaphor = to get from the unknown to the known “kitchenette building” pg.326 o Brooks makes the ordinary extraordinary o Repetition/habit/tradition kill our ability to appreciate value o Poets maintain wonder & want it to reign o Tries to restore appreciation for what you have “the vacant lot” pg.328 o symbol of what used to go on there o reminds you of the energy o Wordsworth’s “Michael” ends with “and never lifted up a single stone” Stone represents something Michael & his son would build together o Poets project value onto the world – visionaries “The Rites for Cousin Vit” pg.332-333 o Vit is close to vital o Person died in physical sense but among the living she is vital/hyper energetic o Most of us miss almost everything Like we haven’t looked at our thumbs since infancy o Always being in a state of ecstasy gets old too o Keep a spark alive in us – the common is uncommon until you & society let it become common o Everydayness o Enthusiastic = God within Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man Ralph Waldo Ellison o Named after Ralph Waldo Emerson – favorite words are power & light Ellison has fun with those words in Invisible Man Richard Wright helped him get attention & then Ellison reject Wright b/c he protests white racism o Ellison calls that a sociological element but all literature does o Keats’ “Ode to Grecian Urn” – poetry is pure art Would have to see the urn in British museum b/c the English ‘borrowed’ Greek artifacts at gunpoint so this poem has blood all over it Black men are invisible to white eyes Narrator – black man who left society to live underground b/c white society refused to see him Allegory (extended metaphor) African American history o What happens to the narrator is a symbol of what happens to all blacks o Pg.258 – prologue – unnamed narrator (no identity to white society) They see what I represent – a generalization Circus – suggestive & revealing b/c the novel has references to going in circles Historical allegory – black people have been running in circles for 400 years Ch.1 boomerang People tend to see what they believe & not what’s out there Want people to see him as he is & not as a belief Pg.266 – historical allegory o Who is more oppressed? – the woman or the black men American flag on her thigh – symbol of freedom Access to her = access to freedom Blind – doesn’t see what’s truly out there & will be blindfolded Circus reference Impersonal eyes – made herself hard, means nothing to her Pg.272-273 – he is an example of what African Americans go through o Cast down your bucket Get along with whites, don’t challenge them “social responsibility” = don’t challenge racial status quo – voting, marriage, etc o “unkindly” = easy to speak kindly to someone you don’t fear, someone under you pg.273-274 - reward o his ‘reward’ for being Valedictorian is a briefcase & a scholarship o allegorically speaking his grandfather couldn’t be distracted by the reality of how he was treated, like a sub-human o “insight” = emphasis on objects & meaning b/c title build in the sense of what’s in front of him black people have been given many documents that didn’t totally apply to black people Boxing match – entertainment for the white, racial & sexual oppression Pg.265-266 – entertainment (naked white woman & 10 black boys fighting) o Like in Black Boy, divide & conquer – fight each other instead of the problem Both valedictorian of graduating class o Booker T. Washington – wanted white people to believe black people didn’t want real freedom b/c he wanted money He hid his real attitude People mistook his means for his ends Didn’t want white people to know he hid blacks in his house or helped them with money o Naïve – surprised about the upstanding citizens being drunk Pg.267 – gender & race based oppression o Woman thrown around in the air - Men in the same situation would act in violence o Booker’s strategy became the narrator’s way of life Pg.268 – boxing match o Divide & conquer – like in Black Boy Real enemy is the people watching & laughing o hit so many times when he makes his speech he can barely talk for swallowing his blood Light & Power pg.259 – light & power o stealing from the power company o advantage of people thinking they are smarter than you o Ras = race – Marcus Garvey’s back to Africa movement Race alone can’t explain American history Pg.260 – monopoly on light & power o 1369 lights = 37x37 – 37 is when Ellison finished the book o Blues – give control to unbearable pain – survival Pg.264 – you have no obligation to recognize me & my abilities, so why should I care about you? Conclusion o Underground man – all he’s learned should give him moral obligation to come up What he sees would not be accepted anyways Cant enlighten people above ground Refuse to see one another Prologue - pg.258 – white man – neither sees the other – extension of what is in their heads o both are fighting extensions of their imagination o racism is a matter of objects – how you see the world – shortcut on mental effort everyone is individual, but everyone is categorized Pg.270 – speech o Makes a mistake – Freudian slip Means to say “social responsibility” but actually says “social equality” Sometimes the truth comes out unintentionally Really wants equality Fighting against each other instead of the real problem Allegory on the rug – anti-reward Pg.271 – don’t think about resisting Pg.272 – speech o Amused he knows words with more than 1 syllable o Direct quote from Booker T. Washington’s Atlanta Exposition Speech Cast down your bucket where you are – stay where you are, don’t rock the boat Foreign land – 18 & 19 century, more blacks than whites o Mouth filling with blood – killing yourself, don’t take the game seriously o Gives his grad speech to businessmen who think its fun to exploit black men & white women Circularity Pg.264 – “naïve” = understatement of the novel o Circularity – back to where you started, boomerang o Quote from Booker T. Washington speech – fingers of the same hand, each different but part of the same o January 1, 1863 – Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1948 – statement Lincoln only partially freed the slaves Only freed in Confederate states but not Northern border states who stayed with the union – needed their sons to fight Totally abolished after the Civil War o Stayed in place – didn’t rock the boat o Grandfather – tell whites what they want to hear but don’t believe it o Be humble & submissive outside, not inside o Narrator becomes the mask he wears Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun Hansberry was 1 successful African American Broadway writer – appeared in 1950s o Gay – kept quiet b/c audiences wouldn’t come if they knew Revolutionary play, but very much with the times in terms of hiding certain elements and truths b/c of audience reactions o Writes with control – sees a lot of points of view Only recently that a black playwright was recognized o need: money, white investors, economics o now there is funding for African American extremely resonant play - you can move up if you play by the rules Title – poem by Langston Hughes “Harlem” o What happens to a dream deferred – explode, dry up like raisin in the sun o Hughes’ “The Mother” – cast light on play Mother talking to her son about how she has it harder than him b/c she is a black woman - Doubly difficult being a mother 1 performed – tremendous reviews – 2 years on Broadway many members of audience praised the play for the depiction of Mama o Motherhood is sacred, never criticize a mother o Dominant character o No critical questions should be raised about her Not 1 specific central character – the family is a central character more than 1 person Mama/ Lena Younger o Does she ever move far from her throne? o Does she like/enjoy power? Willing to share with her son especially with how insurance money will be used? Walter Lee (her son) wants to open a liquor store – Mama disapproves Sister could have gone to medical school, could have paid the mortgage in white neighborhood, Travis could ask for money o When Beneatha challenges Mama about religion, Mama slaps her & forces her to say in Mama’s house God rules Slapping is not an argument o She calls Travis unto living room where the play’s only white character comes to give money back to them to not move to white neighborhood Wants Walter to conform to what she thinks b/c he has to swallow his pride to get the money to be able to provide for his family Liberty & family or money Mama thinks he’s worried about fancy things; she worried about being lynched when she was younger o Tries to tell Walter & Ruth how to raise Travis o Mama sleeps with a gun in her lap b/c of the bombing of black owned homes White audiences didn’t want to hear that Sources of Tension o Race – back from living among whites o How to spend $10,000 – on what? Who gets to choose? o Gender – Walter doesn’t want Beneatha to be a doctor, threatens her, wants her to stay home b/c men should make money o Afrocentricity vs. Assimilation Assimilation – minority moving into & with majority culture Character from Africa interested in Beneatha, wants her to move to Africa Fight in her head: being Afrocentric or Assimilating into white class Mama thinks Beneatha should be with him so she can be home Mama stirs every pot, likes to dominate o Generational tension Questions to consider: o Who is a bigger threat to young ones: white people or Mama? o Is it Mama’s business to tell Walter & Ruth to have an abortion or not? o Are Mama’s motives Mixed? o Which source of tension is most important? Hansberry/author says the most important passage is when Joseph Asagai says “eventually people like me will be overthrown by other Africans” Looking way into the future o Key Question: what is a man? Mama thinks Walter is not a man Walter – being a man in money Overwhelmed when Mama gives him $6500 & keeps $3500 for mortgage But how will they keep the house without liquor store Gives Travis a quarter b/c it proves to Travis that Walter is man o Even though they can’t afford it Without money you’re nothing o What is the importance of the plant?
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