Plum Bun: A Novel With A Moral

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Jessie Redmon Fauset's novel, Plum Bun, is a story of African American self-hatred told through the life of the protagonist, Angela Murray and her family, who are divided by color.

Plum Bun was set in the 1920s, which was a time of tremendous change in America in many areas including technology, economics, and civil rights. During that decade, people were moving from farms and rural areas into cities where they began to focus on education in the school systems and civil rights. Cities like New York became filled with men and women seeking to educate themselves, thus developing into one of the most important civil rights movements - the Harlem Renaissance, or the "New Negro Movement." In this movement African Americans, for the first time,
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Society in America during the era forced people to act out these beliefs which had been fostered by white society to institutionalize and insure its superiority over the African American community. As viewed by white society, from slave-era and beyond, African Americans were often considered to be savage and unscrupulous. When Fauset describes Angela's mother, Mattie, she writes about Mattie's previous employer, a disreputable actress, which only hired colored servants "for hers was a carelessly conducted household, and she felt dimly that all coloured people are thickly streaked with immorality" (Fauset 29). Jesse Redmon Fauset herself fought against this notion of black stereotyping during a time when many African American writers were succumbing to white publisher demands that the white perceived "primitive" black society be represented in literature. "Despite rejections and difficulties, Fauset refused to satisfy the demands of the publishing establishment. Though she knew that the power to pass judgment on her work rested with the white male literary establishment, she refused to compromise her own artistic vision" (McDowell xxvii). Even within the African American community there became a hierarchy regarding "degrees of blackness." Zora Neale Hurston writes, circa 1930's, an informal Glossary of Harlem Slang which portrays the black "color scale" as: "high yaller, yaller, high
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