The Meaning Behind The Character Of Rutherford Selig

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The meaning behind the character of Rutherford Selig Author and playwright August Wilson’s Century Cycle, a series of ten plays representing the lives of African-Americans during each decade of the twentieth century, has widely been acknowledged by critics as well as the general public for its accurate depiction of the journey and struggles of the African-American community in its search for an identity in a white world. During the entire cycle Wilson almost exclusively focuses on black characters and their personal and collective stories. However, it is interesting to mention that there are a few white supporting characters that are present in some of the plays throughout the cycle, and whose role, although not central, is still important as their presence adds diversity and renders the stories of the plays more complex in terms of both nuance and depth. One such character is Rutherford Selig, a traveling salesman, who appears in the first two plays of the cycle: Gem of the Ocean and Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. But in contrast to all the other white characters, who are viewed as oppressors in the plays and who have often hurt one of the black characters in some way, Selig is actually helping the African-American characters, whom he not only considers as friends, but also seems to care about. This inconsistency of Rutherford Selig’s persona with the other white characters in both “Gem of the Ocean” and “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” renders him unique and in a way even makes

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