Inhibiting Midwives, Usurping Creators: The Struggling Emergence of Black Women in American Fiction

  • Sondra O’Neale
Part of the Language, Discourse, Society book series (LDS)

Abstract

One ostensible phenomenon in the literature by and about black Americans which has been written since the 1960s is the disclosure of those aspects of black personality that were heretofore hidden from the white world. Many of those unsurfaced aspects have been historically weapons of survival, weapons that of necessity have obfuscated the truth about black identity. The noted poet Paul Laurence Dunbar has most aptly called the veneer that blacks have worn in life and literature the “mask” we wear “that grins and lies and hides our sighs.”1

Keywords

Sugar Dust Depression Torque Cage 

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Notes

  1. 2.
    Toni Morrison, “What the Black Woman Thinks about Women’s Lib,” New York Times Magazine, August 22, 1971.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See Frank Snowden, Before Color Prejudice: The Ancient View of Blacks ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1983 )Google Scholar
  3. Frank Snowden, Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970 ).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    In addition to Snowden’s texts, see Jean Devisse and Michel Moliat, The Image of the Black in Western Art: From the Early Christian Era to the “Age of Discovery,” Africans in the Christian Ordinance of the World, trans. William Granger Ryan ( New York: William Morrow and Co., 1979 ).Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Mercer Cook and Stephen E. Henderson, The Militant Black Writer in Africa and the United States ( Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969 ), p. 65.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Phyllis Chesler, Women and Madness ( Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1972 ), p. 210.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Trudier Harris, From Mammies to Militants: Domestics in Black American Literature ( Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1982 ).Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    William Faulkner, “Delta Autumn,” in Go Down Moses ( New York: Random House, 1942 ), pp. 335–65.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Gertrude Stein, Three Lives ( New York: Random House, 1936 ), pp. 85–86.Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    Charles Chestnutt, The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line (Ridgewood, N.J.: Gregg Press, 1967, reprint).Google Scholar
  11. 14.
    Claude McKay, Home to Harlem (Chatham, N.J.: Chatham Booksellers, 1973, reprint).Google Scholar
  12. 15.
    Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God ( Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978 ).Google Scholar
  13. 16.
    Toni Morrison, Sula (New York: Bantam Books, 1973), pp. 44 and 123.Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    Trudier Harris, “On The Color Purple, Stereotypes and Silence,” Black American Literary Forum 18 (Winter 1984): 155–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 20.
    Frances Beale, “Double Jeopardy: To Be Black and Female,” in The Black Woman: An Anthology, ed. Toni Cade (New York: New American Library, 1970 ), pp. 90–100.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Regents of the University of Wisconsin System 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sondra O’Neale

There are no affiliations available

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