Five Plays

African-American Studies / April 23, 2015 / No Comments /
This paper discusses Langston Hughes’ work, Five Plays.

This paper is an in-depth examination of the portrayal of racism in Five Plays, by Langston Hughes. The author discusses Hughes’ contributions to the portrayal and understanding of racism and the plight of black people in America. The author discusses the five plays, “Mulatto,” “Soul Gone Home,” “Little Ham,” “Simply Heavenly,” and “Tambourines to Glory.” Hughes examines life in the Deep South and uses comedy to portray the hardships faced by blacks in three of the five plays. Hughes not only examines the relationships and racism between whites and blacks, but also uses relationships between blacks and blacks to demonstrate another form of gender racism.
“Another aspect of racism that comes across loud and clear in Mulatto is the violence that racial hatred provokes in the South. The threat and fear of violence must always be present for blacks where racial relations are concerned. For Hughes, as one critic puts it, “The South’s penchant for racial violence is another important area of concern (Barksdale, 193). As the editor of Five Plays points out, Mulatto is the only play in the book in which a white character is more than peripheral (Smalley xi), and none of the white characters are the least bit appealing. To emphasize the threat of racial violence, Hughes method is obvious, continually: grotesque white characters come in and out of the play like ogres, ready to pounce upon nonwhite victims at the slightest provocation (Bienvenu 341).

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