African American Literature: Long Black Song Character Analysis/Notes

Major Character List

Sarah: Main Character, black some, female protagonist, wanted to keep from happening. felt helpless, married to Silas, lover of Tom? At one point, or boyfriend or what?- we never really know. Hospitable- offered salesman water. Uneducated, mother of Ruth, Maybe in 20’s. Caretaker of baby, conditioned to believe she’s property? 

  • Page 1017: Really loves Tom, with Silas because Tom went to war, her thoughts grow happier when she thinks of hop. Holds tom in high esteem.

Silas: Male, Sarah’s husband, temper? asks no questions-assumes his assumptions, provider, proud of accomplishment, very angry at whites, stubborn, believes what he is going to believe, proud of his farm, his accomplishments

Ruth: Baby, wily kid, restless, likes to play, almost always crying

Tom: Ambiguous, lover of Sarah? Soldier, absent physically in story

White Man: Graphophone seller, stranger, looking for money, wants to attend college to study science, salesman, young, pushy took what he did because he could. Feels entitled because of race and gender.

Minor Character List

White Man’s Buddies/Authority White Folk: come into play at the end to support the white man, buddy is shot by Silas, killed, others burn Silas & Sarah’s house to the ground. 

Aunt Peels: Where Sarah is running to

  • Notes: Approximately the Jazz Age.
  • Creedence: belief in or acceptance of something as true. 
  • Word usage matters: I had said something about Tom being a lover of Sarah, that implies: Unfaithful, Seductress, Cheat- but if I had said Tom was a boyfriend of Sarah- different. Implies: Past Love, Old Flame, Over. Just that one word…and look at the world of a difference it makes- shit that is dangerous oh, how dangerous that could be.
  • Ecocritisism: Aspect of ‘environment’ (loosely used here) that enables someone to commit a crime and go undetected. The corn fields, them being out in the middle of nowhere- that burning, that shooting…would haven never happened in the middle of town. Or would it? Or would they get away with it- then, there- at that place, in that time in History? The social environment conspires with the physical environment. Its is all about interpretation. People seem to thrive, on controversy. Human time is measured differently from the time of a nation. -tested for hundreds of years. A strong personality comes along to manipulate the system & speed things up by very unusual. There is not only a social, and physical, but legal environment as well.
  • Literacy was the African American path to freedom.
  • Women during this time (which holy shit I have to realize how little ago that was, only 50 or so years ago) they were told, and it was firmly believed: they needed to be kept as perpetual children, being grounded, spanked, and whipped to be kept in “order.” Women…were glad  when their husbands spanked them because it kept them in line. Men were very repeatable to women outside the home to other women, but to their wives it was a different story. The idea was if you are married to a perpetual child, that child will never grow up- hence all the obedience beatings. “The problem of msyogny pervades this world,” She said. Is that the was the institution (of marriage) was set up?  
  • Birth of slaves were recorded in livestock books.
  • An interesting phrase “reeks legal issues”
  • A quote from Dr. Skinner, “I just hear this disembodied voice abad its driving me crazy.” 

There is a paper due next week: We must represent the main character, Sarah, from due complete opposite perspectives and represent each side of this argument so strongly that no one, by reading the paper, can tell which side we are really. Here are the two opposing sides: Sarah, as an innocent girl who got raped & Sarah, as the seductress who deserved punishment from her husband.



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