RacialDiscrimination and Stereotype in Mulatto
Themain purpose of the play is to expose the racial discrimination thatblacks faced from the whites at the time of the play. Therefore, thesetting of the play is significant to the plot, language, style andthe essence of the play in entirety. The play is set at a presenttime, which requires literal understanding to understand what Hughesmeans by the time of the play. The play was performed in 1930s, butcame to be published in the 1960s. This shows that the present timein the play carries the context of 1930s. This is a volatilehistorical context of the play as America was marked by the financialcrisis, racial segregation and social inequality. The setting of theplay is on a Georgia plantation, where the whole play takes place.
Hughesuses language as a tool of distinguishing his characters, the placeof the plot as well as the role of the characters. Hughes useslanguage to distinguish between the whites and the blacks. Accordingto Bloom (23), Hughes concentrates on showing the abuses thatsouthern blacks faced from the whites by using racist language. Thewhite characters continually use abusive language as they await theslightest provocation to pounce on nonwhites (Bloom 23). To achievethis, Hughes uses voices such as the white man Higgins warningNorwood against his son trying to claim the privileges of the whites.Higgins says, "The white folks at the Junction aren`t intendingto put up with him much longer" (Hughes9). The author uses this voice to show the differentiation of the whiteman from the black woman, of which the preceding part of the playfocuses on.
Stereotypebecomes the main theme that forms the basis of the racial segregationaccording to the skin color. To counter the downwards view by theblacks, the blacks fight against the stereotype that is set by thewhites. While blacks such as Robert believe that they are equal andshould enjoy equal rights, white men like block their way with thestereotype of looking down on the blacks. Higginstells Norwood, "Now, Tom, you know that don`t go `round theseparts of Georgia, nor nowhere else in the South. A darkie`s got tokeep in his place down here" (Hughes 10).
Stereotypesare present as aides to the larger theme of racial discrimination.For instance, there is a stereotype that the black person has a bodyworth nothing than just to be used by the whites just as it was inthe times of slavery. Hughes presents blacks being stereotyped as theminority who should belong to the lower level class as indicated byHiggins’argument for Norwood about Robert (Hughes 10). Theimagery of the play is to show that blacks are to be used by whites,the way they want, just as toys. This creates the tone of the play bypointing out the stereotype against the blacks.
Theantagonists and the protagonists in the play perpetrate the theme ofracial segregation that is based on the differences in color. Theantagonism is based on the skin color of the characters, which formsthe basis of differentiation between the sides. While the whites feelsuperior and control others based on the stereotype that they are thesuperior race, the blacks have to bear the challenges that come withthe discrimination. The blacks are faced with an antagonisticrelationship with the whites and are on the receiving end of theabuses and negative prejudice from the whites (Gross61).In the large farm, the blacks are treated like people with nofeelings and are portrayed to be the losers in the antagonism.Sollors(285) argues that racialsegregation portrays the whites as the winners in everyconfrontation, despite sharing blood with the blacks.
Thedamage that is done to a person who has been rejected by his parentsis significantly seen in the play. Most importantly, the damage isstrong since Robert the son is rejected by the father, Norwood simplybecause of his color. The blackness of his skin is what betrays himto be treated so badly by the whites, rejected and denied by his ownfather just as it was a common experience of interracialrelationships (Pilgrim1).Consequently, he refuses to work on his father’s cotton farm, whichseems to be a daring protest in modern audience.
Themain purpose of the play is to present the racial discriminationbased on color in the south, and supported by the theme of thenegative stereotype against the blacks. The setting of the play on afarm helps the plot to explore the conflictsof interracial relationships between a white man and a black woman.The relationship extends to portraythe racial segregation that leads to the rejection of the son of thewhite father simply because of his black color from the mother. Thismakes negative stereotype the basis of discrimination that createsthe rift between the blacks and the whites no matter the type offamily relationship existing in the society.
Bloom,Harold. LangstonHughes.NewYork: InfobasePublishing, 2008, Print
Gross,Ariela. WhatBlood Won`t Tell: A History of Race on Trial in America.2009, Print
Hughes,Langston. FivePlays.Indiana: Indiana University Press. 1963, Print
Sollors,Werners. Interracialism:Black-white Intermarriage in American History, Literature, and Law.Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000, Print
Pilgrim,David. "TheTragic Mulatto Myth."Jim Crow: Museum of Racist Memorabilia. Ferris State University. Web,Accessed August 9, 2014<http://www.ferris.edu/htmls/news/jimcrow/mulatto>