The Character of Clay in Amiri Baraka's The Dutchman Essay example

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The Character of Clay in Amiri Baraka's The Dutchman

Clay is not naive. He may be misguided, misled, and mistaken, but he is anything but naive. Clay is an individual who has shed the roots of his race, disregarding many of the cultural implications that such a decision could have on him. He is a misguided individual who, because he is human, does the wrong things at the wrong times for the wrong reasons. He continually struggles with his own identity and the power struggle between him and Lula. The notion of power dynamics in The Dutchman is brought forth in the character of Clay, who knows the limits of his power, takes the forbidden fruit from the more powerful Lula, and fantasizes about his own life.

Lula is clearly in
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Staring at you? What do you mean?
LULA. Don't you know what staring means?
CLAY. I saw you through the window . . . if that's what it means. I don't know if I was staring. Seems to me you were staring through the window at me.
LULA. I was. But only after I'd turned around and saw you staring through that window down in the vicinity of my ass and legs.
CLAY. Really?
LULA. Really. I guess you were just taking those idle pot-shots. Nothing else to do. Run your mind over people's flesh.
CLAY. Oh boy. Wow, now I admit I was looking in your direction. But the rest of that weight is yours. (6-7)

Clay is timid in the dialogue, and he is somewhat taken aback or even embarrassed in the fourth line, when he pauses. As one might expect, he is awkward and timid when approached by an individual with a higher social status. Part of this is due to exterior appearances--the fact that Lula is white intimidates him. He doesn't totally deny staring at Lula, which could mean either that he was not staring at her or simply that he did not want to admit it, fearful of the consequences. Like invisible man's grandfather would want in Ellison's book, Clay is rarely confrontational with Lula. In this instance, and in many others, he takes a more passive approach. In this case, Clay admits that he was looking in Lula's direction.

Clay takes the middle road throughout much of the play. As Andrzej Ceynowa says in The Dramatic Structure of Dutchman, "The most he dares in his active
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