Essay on Imperium in Imperio

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Imperium in Imperio is a novel that focuses on the problem of race in America. Sutton Griggs portrays the tale of a radical yet secret movement, told by two contemporaries. This is the first major political novel written by an African-American. The main characters of the novel confront the torment and conflict of their time. Griggs deploys his characters to illustrate the climate of the day. He touches on such issues as miscegenation, Jim Crow, the political exploitation of the Black man, and the lack of protection of freed slaves (Griggs 8). The novel was published in 1899, during the heat of the Post-Bellum period. At this point in time Blacks had only experienced thirty four years of freedom. The Reconstruction era marked…show more content…
In a time when civil rights relied on the color of your skin, the odds were not in Belton's favor. As a result of his skin tone, he was submersed in racism, which would have a serious affect on his life. Although Bernard was also Black, his life was less bound to torment than that of a dark skinned man. His light skin appearance worked to his benefit and was also to his disadvantage. Both Belton and Bernard were well educated, yet pursued two polar opposite political views. Their upbringing will illustrate and explain why they adopted such opposite perspectives. Although Bernard was favored in school, Belton never envied him. Belton became accustomed to being treated with cruelty and injustice. He performed above and beyond his expectations, in order to disprove those who didn't believe in him. He used the hatred of white people to fuel his passion to convince and teach the white people of the "New Negro." By applying his talents he constantly impressed and convinced Whites that Negroes could have intellectual prowess. Both Bernard and Belton lived their lives in this manner; Bernard assuming the role of the intellectual mulatto, and Belton as the surprisingly overachieving "New Negro." This distinction worked to Bernard's advantage, yet it is contrarily problematic for Belton. Belton is a man of intellect and morals, yet he has no room for error. Throughout his life he strived to excel in the system within white

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