The Phenomenon of Inter-racism in the Society

Introduction

Inter-racialism and mixed marriages, by extension form basis for a number of literary works. As various authors present the concept of racism, a number of factors emerge which ideologically shape individual perception of racial identity across the different periods and ages. Most authors, view race as a stationery factor that is there to stay. However, a large proportion of them agree that racial influenced behaviors are dependent on a number of variables. The variables shape the societal approach and perception of racism. Whether or not, a white population accepts a black person in their midst is dependant on the social ideologies that guide their beliefs and practices. Literary authors have crafted these ideas into fictitious and real life stories that interest readers while conveying distinct messages on racial congregation.

While this paper acknowledges that inter-racism is a phenomenon the society must live with, it draws from a number of vocabulary and aesthetic experience to analyze the relationship between racism and changing times. This is possible with the help of a number of works including ‘Pudd’nhead Wilson’ by Mark Twain, ‘Light in August’ by William Faulkner and ‘The Dutchman and the Slave’ by Amiri Baraka. While presenting a number of themes in their writings, the authors seek to disprove the concept, that race is a fixed construct by analyzing the conditions by which racial expectations and identifications are altered by transient conditions.

Racism subject has remained lively and critical since the 1950’s. Scholars have often examined how various discrimination aspects including gender, religion and racism are presented in both the past and present literature. Some literary works have put much emphasis on racism conspicuously making it their chief themes. Other authors on the other hand perceive racial attitudes as underlying assumptions, which are not easily visible to the audience/readers. Critics have additionally, approached racism literature through exploration of characters within the text. Commonly cited racist aspect is the prejudice against the blacks, the Jews and women. The literature materials discussed in this paper fit within the categories mentioned. They present race as a construct, which plays little to shape our character but rather acts as identification tag assigned by the community.

The Light of the House

Kinship relations has formed basis for defining human community for a long period. This is a central preoccupation of the literary works earlier mentioned. ‘Light in August’ uniquely drifts away from most literature which value kinship as the basis for relationship and instead presents a scenario where kinship is conspicuously absent. Kinship over-inscription emerges because of the absence relations and is prime to the development organization of Faulkner’s fiction. No comparison is made to family legacy throughout the story (Faulkner 32). A deeper understanding of the novel is collapsed into its protagonist who is racially undecipherable and an orphan who is not known to anyone. This marks the beginning of kinship problem. Intent on taking the lack of explicit kinship relations as a meaningful form in its own right, He argues in “The Stillness of Light in August” that the novel is the product of a culture whose members are all “strangers to each other” (Faulkner 32). To him, not even same terra firma piece sharing convincingly creates a group out of those who do not fit into any within the novel. According to him, the focus of the novel on an alienated person who is subject to modern loneliness eliminates grouping affiliations within the novel (Faulkner 56). It is not surprising that his perceived solution embodied within the novel’s protagonist is the claim that he engages in self-struggle as a stranger in a bid to become a man. This ambiguous conclusion is a product of the revelation of the novels show of lack of common history based on the literary and cultural dimensions that shape its regions, people and their idioms (Faulkner 65).

Hasratian assumes that some level of community aspects informs the novel’s architecture but acknowledges that all communities are constituted of exclusions. The exclusions as he cites, are often, race motivated though he notes that such groupings absent in the novel with its entire characters existing out of group norms. In Patricia McKee’s ‘Producing American Races’ the argument’s presented contend that the exclude human group is mainly comprised of the African Americans and the women whose absence he cites as having contributed to a white male dominant community. He further demonstrates that in ‘Light in August’ none of the key characters Jefferson’s native (Faulkner 56). Mississippi, which is location of novel’s setting is plainly white inhabited and the dominant whites largely depends on the negativity they paint to the excluded to claim ownership of the town (Faulkner 56). The excluded are the suppressed and denied members of the community and bear distorted images of the community (Faulkner 76). The novel motivates its readers to explore the relationship between membership to a group and the role of kinship in shaping characters within the society. Most the characters presented in the novel are perturbed by the protagonist’s mysterious origin. It is this mysterious lack of kinship, which motivates the readers as well as the novel actions to progress. The protagonist is shaped as an isolated, self-generative and internal person who constructs his own way of life other than that which the community attempts to feed into him. The novel begins with an embodiment of kinship as pregnant woman is presented and the fact that Lena Grove herself lacks any clear parentage link.

The book critically examines the human nature within which racial relationships are found yet have little meaning to ultimate human character/behavior. In doing this, the novel provides the answer to the question as to the relation between race and humanity. Like many other works of Falkner, kinship is constantly denied in Light in August. Reconstruction of Faulkner’s fictional experiences, the racial conflict within the society is evident and well illustrated. Characterization and organization of the novel is in such a way that kinship is largely confounded. Indeed, the very denial of those relations constitutes what he calls echoing Leslie Fiedler, “America’s central gothic experience” Thus he implicitly and ironically suggests that all meaningful forms of kinship, including racial forms of kinship, are missing, repressed and replaced by figures of “passing” and “the uncanny” perceptions.

Sundquist views this as resenting several oppositions, which include concealment and revelation of facts, visibility, and invisibility of facts, veiled aspects and tangible aspects, and the hidden and the suppressed (Faulkner 71). Other than this reasonability, there is admittance that this new aspect of historicism yields to various gothic specters as well as tangibles.

The difference, which facilitates formation of kinship, is established by declaration of the failure of blood relation to evince the protagonist’s affiliation to any group. This reflects the invisible blackness concealed by the protagonists white body (Faulkner 71).

‘Metaphysical essence’ projects a simple designation of things out of sight and hence seems to be in line with Faulkner’s skepticism with regard to racial identity (151). In the novel, race is altered to deny outward and visible identification in addition to its baffling of the ontological grounds for racial identity. Christmas therefore remains non-affiliated to any race. Paradoxically, critics who base their answers to identity on race within the novel argue based on the novels indeterminate indicators.

Kinship as a metaphysical essence is identified within the American culture and Faulkner’s does not handle it with skepticism. The baits presented by those defunct racial codes within the novel are snapped by critic’s hen creating racial allegories out of family relations which are concealed behind the secret origin of Christian in addition to the hidden skin of his true background. One is then left wondering whether it is self-defeating to establish such allegories. Christmas therefore acts as the means by which identity of kin is concealed or mystified from the society.

In the characters, Joe Christmas and the maternal shadowy figure of Lena Grove, humanity is perceived in the form of race, social class, gender affiliation, family relations, and religious affiliation. These aspects form the basis of kinship and community organization. Reading ‘Light in August’ in terms of life continuity across cultures and diversity groupings shape our perceptions of kinship as presented within the novel. Joe Christmas is presented as a model representation of humanity aimed at testing the limits of humanity classification (Faulkner 76). The novel navigates through an experimental process of ingestion, abjection, individual/communal reflection, human instinct and action. These aspects fail to relate bare life aspects to supposed higher human consciousness levels and organization collectivity, which starts and terminates with kinship.

The character is assumed to present a position within the already existing view of humanity. However, it is vital to state that the novel challenges the background of culture upon which the world is constituted (Faulkner 71). The kinship nomenclature offers an intrinsic and integral language part. Separation of kinship from other categories that distinguish it would be of essence in understanding interracial existence. Kinship in itself is writing and like language, it operates as a different system of culture. Additionally, kinship is used as the basis for individual identity. It is therefore a medium upon which the protagonist and the antagonist’s world are related to the story’s opinion on race and character. It has been widely perceived that race is a character of kinship. The common protagonists designation of a common name other than that perceived to belong to his relatives (family) symbolically establish kinship. This nametag designates and obligates the groups to a distinct behavior that they associate. However, no proof exists of any blood ties to such group behaviors. The character lacks direct family affiliation but kills by his appellation.

According to Durkheim, a meal taken together creates a unique kinship bond, non- racial affiliated that minds the group together. On this basis, it cannot be assumed that blood, family or racial relationships are the basis for kinship and individual character. Rather than racial category and kinship languages, names and food offer a common body that brings together communities. Despite being a radical figure that obscures and manifest through family connections, race does not define individual behaviors. Christmas is presented as the ideal resemblance of an individual’s imagination lacking in traditional criteria of community.

In the character, Faulkner assembles capabilities and properties which a product of a different racial and ethnic affiliation and hence character, a character that is paradoxically composed of anonymities and backgrounds that lack common descent and do not engage in any kind of cultural interchange (Godden 237). The story presents a scenario that bear exception to normal human thought that readers often associate with members of a group (race). To an extent, Christmas stands out a symbol of another corporate, other than which he might have come from. His proclamation, that his name is not McEachern but “Christmas”, raises a new view of ethnicity and racial identity, hence symbolizing absence of a link between identity and individual’s way of life. His name segregates him from household names and the normal practices regulated by the convention of kinship (Godden 237). He does not become a Christian lest he loses his name “Christmas,” a name acquired by virtue of having been left at an orphanage door on a Christmas Eve. His names origin remains obscure. He does not pray and has desisted from learning catechism as his father does. Additionally he goes without food and eats in isolation instead of joining the McEarchern’s for family meals. (Faulkner 85).

Despite having been adopted an accepted by McEarchern; to him McEarchern has always been a stranger. Despite being within the family, he does not involve himself in their activities. He further makes himself an exception to kinship rules by denying, refuting, and attacking his adoptive parent. The novel presents Christmas as one who is out of self and outside kinship rules and becomes “the figure of representation of singularity as far as it exhibits irrepresentability.

Establishing the protagonist’s adoption of the Christmas name is drawn from as far as the novel allows the reader to with regard to his origin. Godden translates a child’s conception of identity as being translatable from biological to ideological conception founded on ideality (237). Christian supports this ideology by formation of his own individual identity. Faulkner’s character basically, lacks affiliation to any group’s identity.

The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead

Many critics of ‘Pudd’nhead’ agree on the extraordinary power of Roxana as a character. While others have attended more to her problematic behavior, such as the radical changes in her demeanor, her white supremacist attitudes, and her capacity for both cruelty and tenderness, have offered a variety of explanations either to defend or to attack Twain’s portrayal (Gilman and Forest 46). The critical response shows a marked tendency, to use her sexuality to account for both Roxana’s power and the problems she raises as a character, for example, in the most compelling and nuanced analysis of the novel as a whole, James calls Roxana “the primary force in the world she serves” and underscores that force as “sexual.” He traces a circuit of power in the novel’s plot structure originating in the white, male lust of the Southern slaveholder. What “explains Roxana’s power,” according to Cox, is the “submerged lust” of the white male, whose passion is transferred from the white wives to the slave mistresses. Roxana serves as the repository of “the guilt of their repressed desires, so that their guilt is objectified in her repression. Her son, Tom Driscoll, thus becomes the avenging agent who carries back across the color line the repressed guilt which has gathered at the heart of slavery (Gilman and Forest 46).”

Therefore, Tom’s assassination of his foster father, Judge Driscoll, is the thematic center of the plot, and his murder suggests the anarchy which the white society has by its own action released upon it (Newlyn 49).” As Cox tracks the transmission of guilt and desire from the white male through the black female and back onto the white male (Gilman and Forest 46), he also tracks power from its “origin” in the white, male lust out of which Tom was created down to Roxana, who is only the immediate source of Tom’s ‘dark force.’ If the power of those who rule has been transferred to those who serve, its origin remains marked at the site of the white, male father, and its final restoration is secured by the “dark comedy” of Pudd’nhead Wilson’s ascent to the position of authority left vacant by Judge Driscoll’s death. The oedipal pattern, in which white males.

Of all our writers, Mark Twain seems most American, as if he, like race, slavery, and the nation itself were referents that could not be deconstructed by language. Of course, a deep irony runs right here. Mark Twain is after all, a pen name, signifying, if it signifies anything, that Mark Twain is all writing. Then in addition, slavery itself was a fiction, a fiction of law and custom, as Mark Twain reminds us in, and Evan Carton has reminded us about, Pudd’nhead Wilson. Beyond that, this nation was itself a text intruded into history, and a text not even in its “own” language but in the language of the parent nation against which it was rebelling. That leaves race as something different altogether, in that it signifies both the unity and the separation of the human species. As a word in English, mother tongue yet not the native language of Nature’s Nation/race refers at once to the most dynamic activity of humanity as in the race for the Pacific, or the race to arrive on the moon, or the arms race and most inertial essence of the human species: the races of the human family (Gilman and Forest 46).

Even such scansion of the terms reveals how culturally loaded they are. Equally important, they are morally loaded, even overloaded. It is impossible for an American to think about race and slavery without feeling a strong moral charge running like an electric current right through the thought, and running strong enough to color it. These volatile subjects do not admit to pure thought, if there is such a thing. If slavery was an absolute contradiction in a free country, its abolition left the issue of race, with which it had been as inextricably bound as one Siamese twin to another. Not dead but vividly living as a moral, social, and legal issue. It took a hundred years after the abolition of slavery to settle the legal issues surrounding race, and there is no end in sight for the moral, psychological, and social issues of race and racism. My figure of race and slavery as Siamese

This novel remains one of the most thorough literary works to have examined institutional slavery, the racial prejudice superficiality. Written during the era of Jim Crow’s segregation, its publishing preceded the landmark segregation case ruling in Plessey vs. Ferguson (Gilman and Forest 46). The novels central character is Roxy who being a white slave does not want the same to happen to his baby. He switches his baby with his master’s child and watches her natural, soon grows up in wealth and become a heartless slave owner and ends up being a criminal (Mark 56). The book generally presents a direct attack on slavery and racial related ideas. In the story, Mark Twain undertakes a deep examination of racial identity. This he does by tracing the switching of a white for a black child. Being one-sixteenth African, Roxy bear’s close semblance to the white race. Her child is accepted as a white and fits within the white community unnoticed over the years (Gilman and Forest 46). This emphasizes the fact that as the child grows, it is not the races but the circumstances and the environment play a crucial roe in shaping individual behaviors.

The novel revolves around identity of a confused lawyer. His eccentric ideas and actions have made the community refer to him as Pudd’nhead. Its setting is based in the 1830’s when racial segregation was still a rife issue within the community. The close resemblance of the children offered an opportunity for comparison of racial identities role in shaping individual (Mark 67). However, unlike the perception held then by the communities, race plays little to shape the children’s behavior but rather it is the environment that shapes their behavior.

Roxanna’s natural child grows up into an arrogant coward and bully. He even attempts to sell off Roxana to pay off his debts accrued in gambling and Roxanna is forced to blackmail him with his identity. Failure results to him resorting to stealing as a way of earning to pay off his debts. He murders the judge during the robbery using a knife stolen from Luigi who is one of the twins recently arrived in the town and well received by the town’s community (Mark 67). Further, Roxana’s natural son causes several disturbances within the area and soon their relationship with judge Driscoll who had adopted him grows sour. He is eventually blamed for the murder of the judge.

Generally, Roxana had hoped that his real son would grow up to become an ideal man she had always anticipated. She knows that origin or rater background would not play a role in shaping the child’s destiny but rather it is the transient conditions in which the child grows up. The failure of racism is reflected in Roxanna disappointment; having spent 23 years in slavery, only for her own son (kin) to continue her on the false pension of 35 dollars a month (Howe 500). The real heir to the wealth on the other bore the ways and life of the condition with which he grew and lacked any character behaviors that would link him to the real parents (Howe 500). This is generally an assertion of the meager role that race plays in shaping individuals as compared to the transient conditions in which persons grow.

The carnivalesque drama of doubling, twin-ship, and masquerade that constitutes Pudd’nhead Wilson and its freakishly extracted yet intimately conjoined story, Extraordinary Twins, is likely to remain misread and controversial in estimations of Mark Twain’s literary achievement as long as the work’s virtual mimicry of America’s late nineteenth century race crisis is left out of account. Readers have, of course, often found a key to the novel’s interpretation in the notorious “fiction of law and custom” that make the “white” slave Roxy legally “black” by allowing one-sixteenth of her blood to “outvote” the rest (Hasratian 77). Like so many periodic moments in the book, however, Twain’s joke about voting speaks not simply to general anxieties about miscegenation but more particularly to the deliberate campaign to disfranchise blacks and strip them of legal protections that was underway by the early 1890s (Hasratian 77). Built of the brutal artifice of racial distinctions, both American law and American custom conspired to punish black men and women in the post-Reconstruction years, and Twain’s bitter failed fiction, verging on allegory but trapped in unfinished burlesque, has been thought to participate in the black nadir without artistically transcending it or, conversely, without reaching its broader historical implications.

The Dutchman and the slave

The Dutchman story occurs in a New York subway where a white woman meets a young black man named clay. The woman uses hear aggressiveness and forwardness to lure clay and crack the shell around him. Both plays however, focus on black and white relationships and more specifically on the heritage of slaves and the oppressiveness accompanying the heritage. Both additionally, transcend sexual relations across the racial lines (Baraka 35). In Dutchman, a subway ride with Clay, a man in his middle 20’s and Lula who is close to 30 and provocative are at the center of the theme. Throughout the whole script, Lula hints towards a sex prospect constantly teasing Clay. Lula claims to know about Clay’s kind and turns into insults which climaxed by uncle Tom’s derision. Clay is a reflection of the black assimilationists. On the other hand, Lula stands for the liberal whites. The liberal whites claim to have a lot of information about the black people. Amiri Baraka displays no patience for such.

There are three main characters in the other play. These are Grace and Easley who are a white couple and one black man who happens to be the white woman’s ex-husband. Walker leads the liberation movement for the black, which aims to annihilate the white population. Grace left Walker due to his commitment to kill the whites whom she is part of (Baraka 35). Despite emerging as a murderer, Walker plays the victim given that the rise of violent racial war was a product of long periods of oppression.

Generally, the Dutchman is emotionally charged and is often considered to symbolically represent the case of Adam and Eve. In this case a black bourgeois man is brutally killed by an insane and seductive white woman whom the scene closes as she prepares for her next victim. Emotional and intellectual fencing between Clay and Lula irrevocably spirals to a symbolic violence act that repeats through the play.

Conclusion

I doubt if there exists any more valuable record for the study of the social history of the Negro in America than the naïve reflection of American social attitudes and their changes in the literary treatment of Negro life and character Deborah (Clarke 400). More sensitively, and more truly than the conscious conventions of journalism and public debate, do these relatively unconscious values trace the fundamental attitudes of the American mind? Indeed, very often-public professions are at utter variance with actual social practices, and in the matter of the Negro this variance is notably paradoxical. The statement that the North loves the Negro and dislikes Negroes, while the South hates the Negro but loves Negroes, is a crude generalization of the paradox, with just enough truth in it, however, to give us an interesting cue for further analysis (Clarke 402). What the essay attempts must necessarily be a cursory preliminary survey: detailed intensive study of American social attitudes towards the Negro, using the changes of the literary tradition as clues, must be seriously undertaken later. This would pave way for an even more in-depth understanding of the variables that define race of an individual.

For a cursory survey, tracing of the attitude toward the Negro as reflected in American letters gives us seven stages or phases, supplying not only an interesting cycle of shifts in public taste and interest but a rather significant curve for social history (Howe 499). More interesting perhaps than the attitudes, are the underlying issues and reactions of class attitudes and relationships, which have been responsible for these attitudes (Mitchell 302). Moreover instead of a single fixed attitude, sectionally divided and opposed as the popular presumption goes, it will be seen that American attitudes toward the Negro have changed radically and often with dramatic turns, with a curious reversal of role between the North and the South according to the class consciousness and interests dominant at any given time (Clarke 402).

Inter-racialism or relation between different persons from different races has remained a fundamental issue across the future and has defined the path and life that many persons and communities have lived. It forms the basis for examination of issues core to racial identification of individuals. Various literary works have however suggested otherwise. This has been by bringing together aforementioned literary works. They effectively confirm that race as a factor does not chart the character of an individual, but rather it is the transient conditions in which the individual is up brought. The scholarship articles discussed above demonstrate the possibility of approaching the racial notion in such a way that racial denial informs the racial ideologies to the positive side. The literary works brings out three aspects of racism, which include the high prejudice degrees, the role of strong segregatory patterns and the long historical affiliation of humans to race.

Negro life is probably the most notable aspects and effect of race. Various authors have discussed the attitudes that emerge including a feeling of strangeness, domestic familiarity, and moral issues raising controversy, feelings of pity, hatred and bewilderments among others (Howe 501). These attitudes have naturally been unfavorable to adequately approach the Negroes portrayal in the society and have been subject to ne form of stereotype or another (Mitchell 300). A number of related issues arise from the case stories and play discussed. Most evident is the fact that individual chart their own life based on what they want to be. They generally assert that outside influence far supersedes racial identity in shaping individual behavior. A key issue that relates to race is ethnicity. While race refers to the cultural construction that depends on the social description associated with that particular race, ethnicity defines and experience based identity as an ongoing process/act. Culture, ethnicity and race all contribute to the individual well being but it must be recognize that they do not bar an individual from charting his/her path of choice.

The large number of white persons constantly subjected to racial victimization evidences the argument’s hollowness (Clarke 412). Large volumes of documents exist to prove that systematic and structural discrimination on basis of race is still rife though milestones are made by the day. Time has proved that race has nothing to do with the way humans live their life except that humans themselves use it as a tag for segregation.

Racial prejudices are present in all population segments but we must acknowledge that consequences are not at par across all the population divides. While many persons have attributed the plight and constant agitation of the colored persons to own cause, this is not true as in most causes, the predicament of one race against the other are defined by the tags that the community have ascribed to them and is often detrimental to their well-being (Clarke 412). Notable currently people are dealing with the race issue just as they are dealing with the climate. This include facts denial, and use of unfounded information among others. The text discussed generally reinforce the argument that earlier mentioned that race is not a fixed construct but rather a tag that the society assigns itself to and use to create difference amongst themselves. Rather the paper asserts that racial expectations are determined by the transient conditions encountered by an individual. All the three texts reinforce this assertion as we see persons of different background existing within different environments and fail to manifest the background that the society would tag them. They instead chart newer paths that make them distinct from what the society would have expected. They offer premises upon which it may be argued based on facts that race is not the ultimate factor that determines the way of life on an individual.

Proponents of race, view human beings based on their physical appearances, e.g. the color of skin. This theory pre-supposes that some people claim that human beings one group of people, identified as the “race”, is superior to another group. It results into hostilities towards the groups presumed to be inferior. Reverse racism can also not be ignored where the presumed inferior groups direct their racial attitudes towards the persons from the race assumed to cause their predicament. Suffering caused by racism perceptions are captured in literature materials, which illustrate various predicaments that individuals have had to endure because of the racial tag assigned to them. Today, as was in the past periods, different theories have been applied in supporting racism, and various groups have been singled as having been victims to racial tags and segregation presented by the society.

Racism can be summatively said to be the perception that one group are superior to another. It often amounts to oppression of group thought of as inferior as well as discrimination and persecution or in dire cases even genocide. Racism asserts that the society is divided into groups, which are distinguished on basis of physical characteristics, cultural backgrounds and behavior. While the society, presupposes that these characteristics are in conformance to a type or are inherited, review of the literature materials earlier mentioned has proved otherwise. However, such is the confusion of racism that the stereotypes are often widely variable. For example, when racists condemn blacks as lazy and feckless, it is not unusual for the same people also to fear black workers as a threat to jobs, which, they argue, should “belong” to white workers. Asian immigrants to Britain are often criticized as primitive and anarchic but they are also seen as an alien influence on the commerce of this country because in some areas they have taken over shops and petrol stations, which could hardly be operated by people who were backward and disorganized (Godden 238). Some of the ideas that were first used to try to justify racism came from religion.

Works Cited

Baraka, Amiri. Dutchman and the Slave. Morrow: New York, 1964.

Deborah, Clarke. Gender, race, and language in Light in August. American Literature 6(3), 1989: 398-413.

Faulkner, William. Light in August. London: Vintage International, 1991.

Gilman, Susan and Forest Robinson. Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson: Race, Conflict, and Culture. Durham, NC. : Duke University Press.1990: 46.

Godden, Richard. Call Me Nigger! Race and Speech in Faulkner’s Light in August. Journal of American Studies, 14(202, 2004: 235-248.

Hasratian, Avak. The death of difference in light in august. Criticism, 49(1), 2007: 55-84

Howe, Lawrence (1992) ‘Race, Genealogy, and Genre in Mark Twain’s Pudd’nhead Wilson’. Nineteenth-Century Literature, 46(4), 1992: 495-516.

Mitchell, Clark. “De Nigger in You”: Race or Training in Pudd’nhead Wilson? Nineteenth-Century Literature, 42(3), 1987: 295–312.

Newlyn, Andrea. “Form and Ideology in Trans-racial Narratives: Pudd’nhead Wilson and a Romance of the Republic.” Narrative, 8 (1), 2000: 43-65.

Twain, Mark. The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead. New York: Signet New American Library, 1894.