EN 220 Week 8 Notes
EN 220 Week 8 Notes EN 220
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Rhiannon Hein on Monday March 21, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to EN 220 at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa taught by Dr. Christopher Love in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 9 views. For similar materials see Honors American Literature II in Foreign Language at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa.
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Date Created: 03/21/16
Richard Wright Notes I. Richard Wright a. He absolutely saw an obligation to use art to improve society. i. He believed art and literature must attack institutional racism for these reasons. b. He thought it was his duty to describe the African American condition so as to include it. c. he comes from the south (heart of Mississippi) and experiences deep racism growing up. i. His autobiography Black Boy (1945) was landmark book that influenced black writers to write graphically about their experiences. d. He was very forceful, his experiences made him angry and frustrated with the racism here in this country. e. One of the later writer in the Harlem Renaissance. f. Wright departs from DuBois’ belief that the black character must be shown in a positive light II. Theme in his works: Racism takes a psychological toll on the individual. a. Wright wanted to show the damaging effects of racism on his characters, so often his characters are not shown in a positive light. i. Bigger Thomas in Native Son lives a life of crime driven by poverty racism and limited opportunities. b. Most of his works deal with a main male character. III. Wright’s work deals with fundamental questions such as: a. What causes crime and violence? b. What role does systemic racism, poverty, and social/legal injustice construct individual identity? c. How is masculinity constructed? What effect does racism have on masculinity? d. How od individuals perceive power? e. Wright does not justify malicious crime and violence, but rather seeks the causes of such. f. He’s wellknown for his brutally graphic, forceful writing style that captures his anger and frustration. IV. “The Man Who Was Almost a Man” a. Dave has a constant desire to have power and to prove his masculinity to others. i. He sees the gun as the tool to give him power, for it can kill a black or white man (p.903) ii. If he had a gun he would have just as much power to take away someone’s worth as the white men take away his by laughing and putting him down. iii. Dave is very cocky in the beginning. He believes that no one knows anything, he knows everything, but that cockiness really only exists in his head. 1. There’s a lot of false bravado, when he encounters real men (such as Joe or his father) he’s afraid of them. a. He never actually confronts his father, he wants to weasel out of it.. b. This acts as a coming of age story. Dave has a certain view of what manhood should be and wants to achieve that ideal. i. He believes in masculinity through violence and connects power with violence. 1. Masculinity is tied up in violence and forceful use of power. ii. In the end, his attaining the gun ends up making him appear even younger in others’ eyes. iii. Dave’s cockiness and false bravado is Wright’s way of pointing out how inadequate and wrong Dave’s view of masculinity is. iv. Dave notices the way his father is emasculated and perhaps doesn’t want it to happen to him. c. Wright is looking at the construction of a male identity. d. If Dave had actually shot at the rich white person’s house, he really would’ve seen power. He doesn’t really have a clear conception of how little control he has. Zora Neale Hurston Notes I. She could rub people the wrong way because of her uniqueness. a. She did not get along well with the male intellectuals i. Hint of sexism against her independent spirit and behavior? 1. Perhaps her independence rubbed men the wrong way b. She disappears from the Harlem Renaissance until Toni Morrison and Alice Walker brought her back. i. During the Harlem Renaissance, she was a blip on their radars. ii. These women pointed to Hurston as being a very important figure. c. She wasn’t embarrassed to present her characters as a mixture of good and bad, strong and weak. i. She as an artist wanted to express their human condition more than just their race’s influence upon their identity ii. If you’re going to idealize a character, it no longer becomes realism. 1. There is a problem with this and modernists, because they do not reject realism. d. Race is a cover. e. Regional dialect i. She’s a regionalist writer ii. Writes mainly about southern African Americans in particularly small towns. iii. Sort of like Twain, but she has an artistic side in which she focuses on metaphor and human condition. 1. “Artsy feel” iv. It’s hard to call her a straight up realist because she uses a lot of spirituality in her work. v. She also uses light hearted humor in a way that most modernists do not. f. The legacy of slavery i. It’s her ancestors’ battle, not her own. ii. She doesn’t want the past to slow her down or get in her way of success. iii. Slavery does not make up her identity. iv. She’s not denying racism, but she views these things (racism, the legacy of slavery) as a welcome challenge and an obstacle that she can overcome. g. Her race as not tragic i. She recognizes that she’s colored but she likes the challenge 1. “I do not weep for the world, I’m too busy sharpening my oyster knife” ii. She also states that she feels bad for her white neighbors, for keeping what one has is not nearly as exciting as getting. iii. However, she did not experience racism the way that others did because she grew up in an all black town. This shaped her understanding and attitude towards racism. h. Identity i. How does identity complicate the notion of individuality? ii. How are race and identity tied together? 1. Sometimes she feels her race and identity connected, such as when she’s listening to jazz. iii. She sort of hypothesizes that identity is imagined based on circumstance. It changes from situation to situation.