Last Updated 08 Apr 2020

Black Movement As Reflected In August Wilson

Category August Wilson
Essay type Research
Words 1884 (7 pages)
Views 628

August Wilson is a great playwright and this can be proved by his numerous plays. However, more than being a great playwright, August Wilson is a great man who had the capability to make the world see the reality behind the African slavery. In this paper, one of August Wilson's play will be analyzed through the historical context of which the slavery is involved. Joe Turner's Come and Gone is a very gripping play which shows the drama and the reality of life at the same time — which is sometimes what literature should be all about or what literature is trying to depict.

Literature has been known to record and to serve as a witness to the various dramatic and historical events of life. The notion of whether literature is actually a record in itself can be also true since authors, novelist, and poets alike have been either inspired by the events that are happening around them or want to record the harsh realities and brutalities brought by Man and by Nature and to Man and to Nature. Thus, it is not questionable why literature has made so much impact in the lives of many people — as it enables them to be inspired by what they read or what they are seeing.

Sometimes, literature is still able to reflect the whole being of a person or as a mirror to a whole nation's dreams and ambitions. August Wilson was able to do both — his poems and plays are able to reflect his personality while at the same time showing the rest of the world the realities of the harsh slavery brought to African-Americans. The most wonderful thing about August Wilson is the fact that the actual slavery or the actual moments of brutalities are left to the imagination of the readers or viewers — what the audience is looking into are the after-effects of slavery and discrimination.

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The actual scenes are not present in the play — what is present is the psychological state of the characters as they set about living in their respective environments? What is more is that the actual environment of the play is in itself a character. This is the case in August Wilson's play, Joe Turner's Come and Gone. A Brief Overview of Joe Turner's Come and Gone The play in its entirety is very enthralling both in its complexity and simplicity. It seems that there is no one central and main character — that the audience is to decide who the real protagonist and antagonist are in the play is the cause of the complexity.

Not realizing that it was one person all throughout as it would be only revealed at the actual end or culmination of the play is what makes it actually simple. Joe Turner's Come and Gone begins in the small town of Pittsburgh's Hill which is actually the place of birth of August Wilson. This is very significant as the area contains a very rich and diverse racial background which contributes to the formation of the personality of the playwright as well as the personalities (or their lack of) of the characters of his play.

Nonetheless, the play concentrates on the race of the African-Americans and the aftermath of the slavery they experienced. It opens with a couple by the name of Seth and Bertha Holly who are arguing over a strange man by the name of Bynum Walker. Bynum is a traditional African man who still practices the customs and thus earning the spite of Seth since Bynum kills the pigeons for his rituals. Seth owns a rental place wherein visitors can rent rooms, and Bynum is one of those renters. The play progresses with the coming of Herald Loomis and his daughter and Zonia who are in search of Martha, Herald's wife, and Zonia's mother.

Martha supposedly left when Joe Turner, a brutal and notorious man, got to Herald Loomis and enslaved him. The arrival of Herald becomes the catalyst as the turn of events happens. There are other characters in the play as well, but Herald and his story are what is the most important. Seth initially does not trust Herald, but later on learns that Herald is actually unable to do things normally like talking, relating, and forming relationships with people because of what happened to him in the past.

As the play progresses, the audience or readers soon discover that Herald once served Joe Turner — a very ruthless man who enslaves Africans or African-Americans. Because of this, Herald lost his personality as a character and his love patriotism for his culture and country. In fact, during one Bynum's rituals, the renters of Seth gather and together sing the juba. Herald gets enraged by this, and it is in this scene that Bynum informs him that Herald has lost his song.

Of course, this has extreme significance as the Africans are very talented people and would perform many songs and dances in their rituals and traditions. Thus, if Herald loses his song, then it could just mean that he has lost his heritage, and this is most likely due to what Joe Turner has done to him. Later on, Martha, Herald's wife, returns and begs him to welcome Jesus since it is through Jesus that Herald would be able to forgive, live, and find his missing song. However, Heralds becomes angry at this and lashes out that no Jesus or god has come to his aid when he needed a Jesus or a god.

In Herald's anger, he hurts himself and bleeds. With this furious act of intentionally hurting himself, Herald announces that he has freed himself and finally finds his own song. He leaves the rental place and the people behind, and thus, the play ends. The Man Behind the Play In Mary Bogumil's book entitled Understanding August Wilson, we are given a brief account of August Wilson's past as well as the things that have inspired him. Most important to mention is his participation in the Black Movement. In fact, his plays serve as a proof to this.

August Wilson's ten plays which symbolize the ten decades of the slavery brought to Africans and African-Americans are full of suffering, pain as well as redemption of the characters. The Black Movement can be considered as the fight of the African-Americans for equality and moreover is for respect. It is a well known fact that they have suffered tremendously when it comes to slavery and discrimination. The time of the early 90's has been times of misery for them but they have endured greatly. A person can only imagine what could have happened even before that.

One great and terrible account is the famous Middle Passage. According to the Resource Bank, the Middle Passage was considered as one of the most terrible things that happened to the Africans. They were treated as commodity and were forcefully brought to the shores of the West to become as slaves. From the moment that they were bought by the English or by the Americans, the start of their turmoil began. As they travel to the West they are deprived of basic rights such as sleeping quarters, sufficient food and water and care.

In fact, during the Middle Passage, a lot of Africans died due to sickness. Many would attempt to starve themselves so they would not endure the hardships anymore. However, the English or Americans (depending on who bought them) would force them to eat as they want slaves who would serve them or slaves whom they can sell. This continued for many years, thus the connotation that Africans were inferior or low-lifes started as they were transported as slaves. Once they reach the shores of the West, more suffering awaits them as they are poorly treated by the White Americans or the English.

This occurrence could have been one of things which have awakened August Wilson to the unjust treatment of the white people to the Africans or African-American. As the mother of August Wilson is an African, it is natural that she would have history or know the real story of what happened to Africans. Because of this August Wilson became an active advocate and pioneer for the rights and for the fight of the African nation. However, this fight would be long and enduring as the Africans or African-Americans would suffer and be miserable in the hands of the white people for many years.

In fact, even in the modern times that society experiences today, there are still many African-Americans, even Hipics and Asians who suffer discrimination tremendously. Considering the fact that President Barrack Obama has won, there is still a tantamount of discrimination experienced by many people. The Beliefs and Principles of the “People's Playwright” as Reflected in the Play As such, it is only natural that August Wilson — who was dubbed as the “People's Playwright” by James Keller would naturally be inspired by his heritage and what other races has done to his people.

He is dubbed as the “people's playwright” not because he is very famous for his numerous plays but because his plays served as the eyes, ears, and voices of the people. What he has done is to say what the people are feeling, to makes others feel what they have felt and most of all, to make others people see that there was injustice done which has been imprinted into the hearts and souls of the African race. When Kim Pereira wrote a book about August Wilson is in a voyage or in an odyssey because of the plays that he wrote, it is both true and false.

August Wilson did went to a voyage to discover his roots but most of all, the voyage he has were together with other people of the African race who have felt and experienced what he has written about. Conclusion The greatest thing about August Wilson and the play is the fact that the play in itself is a declaration that he is proud of his African heritage, even if he had to go to a voyage just to find it. This voyage or journey of August Wilson is by no means an actual adventure. This voyage is more historical, mental, psychological and personal all at the same time.

August Wilson had to reconnect with the actual events that have happened in the past so the characters can have their own personality and history. However, more than bringing color and personality to his character, August Wilson is making means for them to find their own voices which was the whole point of the play as it is the climactic and dramatic theme of the whole work. That the character of Herald Loomis is unable to have any character at all is what the whole play was driving at.

As according to Bynum Walker, Herald has lost his “song” (Wilson, p. 73) which could also translate to a person's being. In fact, Herald was so affected by what has happened to him that he cannot function normally. In conclusion, the play does indeed show August Wilson's belief and principles in an implicit way — one has to only look at the character of Herald Loomis and realize that more than finding his own personal song, he symbolizes the unearthing of the African's yearning for freedom, redemption, forgiveness, and most of all—acceptance.

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Black Movement As Reflected In August Wilson. (2017, Jun 03). Retrieved from https://phdessay.com/realities-slavery-black-movement-reflected-august-wilsons-joe-turners-come-gone/

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