Dutchman - Thematic Analysis Paper

2165 Words9 Pages
Williams, Jae`da
June 19, 2012
ENC 1102 Dutchman Thematic Analysis
The phrase “racial tension” is a small description of the main theme in Dutchman by Amiri Baraka. While race is a vital part of the underlying messages in the play, it stems to a much broader term. In Dutchman Amiri Baraka attempts to grasp the attention of the African American society. Baraka uses Clay’s character to show readers that complete assimilation into another culture is wrong. He wants to awaken the African American men and women in a predominately Caucasian American culture to subconsciously kill the person that is portrayed by Clay in the play. Not only does Baraka want readers and audience members to kill their inner Clay, but refuse to conform to
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Clay, you liver-lipped white man. You would-be Christian. You ain’t no nigger, you’re just a dirty white man. Get up. Clay. Dance, with me, Clay. Clay: Lula! Sit down, now. Be cool.” Even through Lula insulted him and spoke badly about his mother clay still responded in an apprehensive way. Lula’s aggressiveness in her speech angers Clay to the point where he curses at her, that is after she calls him an Uncle Tom Wooly Head. (Martin 62)(Kumar 276)
At the end of scene one Lula says “You’re a murderer, Clay, and you know it.”(Baraka 2751)This quote could be thought of as a subliminal way of saying that Clay killed the black man inside of him. All throughout the first scene Lula has the more aggressive and dominant role, but in scene two Clay takes on the more authoritative role, while Lula ends up being the actual murderer at the end of the play. Lula’s plot to kill Clay is in some way foreshadowed when the other passengers board the train and she says “we’ll pretend that people cannot see you”. (Baraka 2751) Clay tries to defend himself all throughout the play but doesn’t succeed because he can’t defend something that he is not. While Lula is insulting the stereotypes and behavior of black men, Clay cannot fully defend them because he himself isn’t truly “black”. (Klinkowitz 123-124)
Baraka used a sense of satire because instead of directly inputting his opinion about Clay he played off of Lula’s character,

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