Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Historical Context and Allusions.  Struggle for racial and gender equality  Ending the era of former slaves, now a segregated nation – De facto vs.

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Historical Context and Allusions.  Struggle for racial and gender equality  Ending the era of former slaves, now a segregated nation – De facto vs."— Presentation transcript:

1 Historical Context and Allusions

2  Struggle for racial and gender equality  Ending the era of former slaves, now a segregated nation – De facto vs. De jure segregation in the North and South  Two different types of racism  Jim Crow laws, “separate but equal”  Not really equal – “dispossession”  Reference in the paint factory, adding 10 drops of black chemicals to the “pure white” – not entirely “pure” (10%)  Harlem renaissance: the developing black identity  A culture coming into itself, new freedom of expression  Discontent – free but segregated blacks looking for equality and action (before Civil Rights)  Beginnings of race riots, protests, and movements

3  Fight for equality: rise of Communism and unions in the black community – “Brotherhood” in the novel  Turmoil, protest, race riots  Ras the Exhorter represents the “black nationalism” ideas that would eventually influence groups such as the Black Panthers  Servile attitudes left over from slavery –Brockway  Dr. Bledsoe keeps his power by giving up his pride; Brother Jack keeps his power by leading under false pretenses  “overcome ‘em with yeses, undermine ‘em with grins…”  Women as the “homemaker” image of the time, a lesser issue  The woman question – a distraction

4  Ellison uses “the predicament of blacks in America as a metaphor for the universal human challenge of finding a viable identity in a chaotic and sometimes indifferent world.”  American culture: the “melting pot” – easy to lose individual and cultural identity, alluded to in the hospital scene – forgetting his memories, rebirth  “moving out of the fire and into the melting pot”  Personal identity and values, black identity, American identity  IM’s search for his place in society and for his own values  Gets caught up in the values of other causes, not his own – trying on new identities (college, brotherhood, Rinehart)

5  Harlem Renaissance – music, dance, language, culture  The “old-fashioned” racism vs. Ellison’s modernism  Explores African-American contributions to American culture  Racism in the South (straightforward) vs. North (subtle)  The yam seller – the way to freedom is to embrace one’s own culture and past, accepting yourself – “I yam what I am!”  Trying to be someone else to please others = losing true identity-message of the novel  Being offered pork chops and grits at the diner before, shift

6  Jazz and blues music were very important to the Harlem renaissance because they were a new contribution to America solely from the black community  “Protest music” became a sub-genre  The lyrics, rhythms, and melodies defined black culture in the time period  “What did I do to be so black and blue?” –Louis Armstrong  “London Bridge Blues”  “Back Water Blues”  “Go Down Moses”  “Jelly, Jelly”  Peter Wheatstraw’s blues – stage name of William Bunch  Assumption that “all colored people sing” – 1 st Brotherhood party

7  Used throughout the novel as a reference to IM’s racial identity and kinship with the black community  Traditional “slave” songs, spirituals  Pick Poor Robin Clean – violent image, appears when IM realizes Dr. Bledsoe’s real intentions  John Brown’s Body sung at the 1 st Brotherhood speech  Spiritual songs relating to Brother Tarp’s story when he gives IM the leg chain

8  Allusion to Plato’s Allegory of the Cave  Use of light as enlightenment - theme  Allusions to Dante’s Divine Comedy  Mentioned at the beginning, IM’s journey and realizations parallel Dante’s journey through all of his mistakes to ultimate understanding  Must recognize the problem in order to change  Allusions to the Odyssey  Blind Rev. Barbee acts as Homer, telling the Founder’s tale  The nude dancer at the battle royale is portrayed as a Greek siren, luring IM to danger  Reference to Julius Caesar  “Oration over Brutus’s body” at Tod Clifton’s funeral – traitor  Reference to Uncle Tom’s Cabin  Ras refers to the brothers who allow themselves to be subjugated by whites as “Uncle Toms”  Traditional black folktales  Peter Wheatstraw, a Southern folk character brought to life in the city, brings back memories of IM’s childhood  Brer Rabbit represents the enslaved African who uses his wits to overcome circumstances and get revenge

9  The Story of Little Black Sambo  A children’s book written in 1899  Sambo is a child in British-occupied India who surrenders his colorful shoes, clothes, and umbrella to four hungry tigers so that they will not eat him. They chase each other around a tree until they melt into butter, which Sambo puts on his pancakes.  The story is referred to as “dark iconography” and “pickaninny literature”  “Sambo” has become a racial slur

10  Washington was a former slave who used education to become a leader in the movement for equality. He was known for his speechmaking skills.  “I visualized myself as a young Booker T. Washington” – IM’s dependence on others for identity  Lifting the Veil of Ignorance statue at Tuskegee Institute  “A race, like an individual, lifts itself up by lifting others up.” - Booker T. Washington  The founder and Dr. Bledsoe are both parodies of Washington, showing different amounts of self-interest over concerns for black Americans  Hints at the novel’s assertion that black leaders are not always leaders of black people.

11  Ellison identified with his namesake Ralph Waldo Emerson because both writers were “outsiders” who were inside the American experience  Emerson as a character in the book is a forward thinker, part of the young generation, and understands the importance of vision  “Ambition will blind you to the truth”  Homosexual, weak sense of identity, issues with his father – parallel to Mr. Norton  The Calamus Club – reference to Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass, the section about manly love is titled Calamus  Emerson is referenced again at the end of the novel as a manipulator  “I saw Jack and Norton and Emerson merge into one single figure. They were very much the same, each attempting to force his picture of reality upon me.”  Unclear whether this is about the author or the character Emerson

Download ppt "Historical Context and Allusions.  Struggle for racial and gender equality  Ending the era of former slaves, now a segregated nation – De facto vs."

Similar presentations

Ads by Google