Long Black Song Perspective Paper: Two Sided Argument

Men and women have always been unequal.

In the story, A Long Black Song, by Richard Wright, the main character Sarah is viewed as one of two things. She is a.) An innocent woman, or b.) A seductress. In a quick overview of the story, Sarah is a young black woman at home with her baby, waiting for her husband to come home from town. The day is late and Sarah realizes her husband Silas, will not be arriving home until the next day. While she is calming the restless baby, a white man drives up to the house and automatically begins to sell Sarah a graphophone. Sarah hasn’t got any money but offers the man a drink of water and the actions of the characters develop from there.

Sarah must be a strong woman to stay home while her husband is gone. She is the caretaker of the baby. She keeps up with the house, and watches out when unwelcome company coms along. Sarah cannot afford the graphophone, but she does offer hospitality. After white man has had his drink, that he starts to stare hard at her- at her chest, at her. He then advances. Sarah pushes the white man away. She says this, “ Naw, naw…Mistah, Ah can’t do that” (Call & Response, 1020). Then she moves away from him again. He moves toward her and she exclaims, “Lemme go.” (Call & Response, 1020) This was all Sarah could do.

Consider the social/historical context of the situation- a time when all men, especially white men, where superior to women. Women were seen as objects, not as human beings. Sarah says no, but her word, because she was woman- meant nothing. The white man played on that power- he took from her what he did not deserve to have.

No one would believe her no matter how loud she cried out and if she inflicted violence, Sarah would get the blame-  the consequence for being a women. Men and women were treated unequal during this time, but white and African American people treated each other all the more unequal- in the 1920s, when women finally became to get the right to vote, white women would not walk beside black women for the sole reason of color.

Sarah is option less and innocent. The smartest action she has is to endure.

But on the other hand –Sarah had been waiting. She had been daydreaming of another man- signaling that emotionally; she was not as attached to Silas as we’ve been led to believe. Although this was not the man she was dreaming of, he was still a man. There must have been some desire that her husband could not fulfill.

Sarah’s lustful plea of “naw mistah naw”, could have been her justifying what was about to happen. Maybe her mind didn’t want it, but her body did, and that is what betrayed her.

She could have said no in the first place- she could have been thinking “no”, and had her faithfulness had been set in a stronghold, but Sarah may have come to realize she had just been waiting around for too long. Suppose she changed her mind as time went on; Sarah may have come to realize that she was bound to Silas in ways a women like her had no way of escaping and Sarah needed an escape.

Sarah could not resist temptation. Sexuality drove her to commit adultery –regardless of the consequences. She was a woman whose desires conquered all.

Silas and Sarah had no neighbors. There was no one to witness the events that take place after the man arrived.


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