W.E.B. Du Bois and Suzan-Lori Parks: Similar Themes example

Haven't found the essay you need?

We can write it for you. On time. 100% original.

Order Now
Text Preview

W.E.B. Du Bois and Suzan-Lori Parks: Similar Themes

Taking into account the still relevant issues experienced by the black, the analysis of the current conditions black people face remains urgent. In this context, it might be productive to refer to the literary legacy of representatives of the mentioned community to trace the historical roots of these problems. At the same time, this might allow recognizing the profound continuity within the reconsiderations of black people’s situation while referring to sources of different periods. To be more specific, taking a closer look at first chapters of W.E.B. Du Bois’ The Souls of Black Folk published in 1903 and Suzan-Lori Parks’ play Topdog/Underdog written a hundred years later reveals the presence of similar themes between these writings, such as the struggle for the genuine black identity and the failure to gain equal labor rights in the U.S.

Naturally, the ideas of Du Bois are inspired by the recent Emancipation and the widespread rejection it receives despite its legitimization. When he states that “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color line” (Du Bois para.1), he definitely means that black people fail to receive an access of education and other facilities. As a result, on the level of self-consciousness, a deep minority complex eventually becomes actual for black people. This outcome, as Du Bois reveals, is caused by “twoness” (para.6) of a black person experience: “an American, a Negro; two souls, two thoughts, two unreconciled strivings; two warring ideals in one dark body” (Du Bois para 6.) As for the reception black people develop towards this situation, the author confirms that they simply wish to combine being both an American and a Negro, as well as to be provided with the same opportunities (Du Bois para 7). In her turn, in her play Topdog/Underdog, Parks manages to deliver a similar inner conflict with one’s black identity on the examples of two African-American brothers, Lincoln and Booth. Precisely, to gain an opportunity to get a job, ironically, Lincoln is forced to accept the position of Abraham Lincoln’s impersonator, allowing his employers to paint his face white (Parks 57).

In the light of the situation faced by Parks’ character, the theme of unequal employment should be also discussed in more details. In the play, when another brother, Booth, intends to find some preoccupation elsewhere, he reveals his plans to change his name to Lincoln due to his gambling past. As a response, the latter warns him not make it sound African: “I mean, you dont want yr new handle to obstruct yr employment possibilities” (Parks 18). Thus, the integration in the American working environment seems to be impossible in case one’s ethnic features are emphasized. In fact, Du Bois’ work at least to some extent provides an answer why this order prevails. For instance, in the part “Of the Dawn of Freedom”, he reveals that the upcoming cooperation with black freedmen before the Emancipation was regarded as “unthinkable, the maddest …

Download Full Essay Show full preview


Examples provided by Homework Lab are intended for the motivation and research purposes only. Do not submit any paper as your own piece of work. Every essay example belongs to students, who hold the copyright for the written content. Please, mind that the samples have been submitted to the Turnitin before and may show plagiarism in case of the repeated submission. Homework Lab does not bear any responsibility for the unauthorized submission of the examples.