The Women in Richard Wright's Uncle Tom’s Children Essay

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Some critics have argued that Richard Wright’s women are “flat, one dimensional stereotypes, portrayed primarily in terms of their relationship to the male character”. (Quote, p540) However, in Uncle Tom’s Children, Wright resents three very distinct types of female characters who did not fit this description. Wright portrays women as an Avenger, a Sufferer and a Mother figure whose actions propel the stories to their final conclusion. In the story “Bright and Morning Star” Wright places the protagonist, Aunt Sue, in a domestic environment. “Her hands followed a lifelong ritual of toil” (pg222) as she cleans and cooks. Interestingly, Aunt Sue is the only heroine in the stories, who shows a different type of bravery than perhaps shown by …show more content…
Once again, we see a female character dependent on her male counterpart for her well being. Lulu is very much a catalyst for the action in the story. Her suffering forces Mann to act, pushes him to use the stolen boat and ultimately seals his fate. The final archetype of women offered in the collection is the role of women as mothers. In “Long Black Song” Sarah is the primary caregiver and is responsible for looking after the house. Her primary concern is her child when Silas throws her from the house. This idea of women as the caregiver is evident in all of the stories. The mother figure in “Big Boy Leaves Home” frets about her son’s well being as the father makes arrangement to get his son to safety. Aunt Sue in “Bright and Morning Star” takes action to protect her son and his comrades. Throughout the stories we see time and time again that the place of the woman is in the private sphere, the home, while the men are far more assertive in the public setting. All of the stories in “Uncle Tom’s Children” draw upon African American folk culture. The names of all the stories except “Big Boy Leaves Home” are taken from black spirituals. Although the title of “Big Boy Leaves Home” is not taken from music, the story is punctuated with songs and the idea of the train as a means of escape which dominated African American folklore and culture. The use of music in the stories is very
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