Caroline Civil Rights Movement Analysis

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Oppression is the subjection of own group by another. The results are devastating to the group being oppressed, and are harmful to society. In United States history, the main group of people who have struggled against oppression are African Americans. This oppression resulted in the formation of the Civil Rights Movement, which fought for the equal rights for all citizens under the law. However, this struggle against oppression is not as one dimensional as it seems. Caroline or Change helps to show oppression in a new light by following the life of Caroline, a single mother and housemaid. Caroline helps to forward this new idea of oppression by showing how oppression can impact every facet of a person’s life. This can have deeper consequences …show more content…
The setting of the musical takes place during the widespread increase in popularity of the Civil Rights movement. This was becoming a larger part of African American culture, as it was a way to achieve equality under the law. While this was the case, Caroline took an avid stance against the movement, and was not willing to change for it. This is best seen in the Caroline’s conversation with Emmie at the Chanukah party. Caroline gets frustrated and says “CHILD YOU HEAR ME? HUSH YOUR MOUTH” when Emmie tries to rebuke Mr. Stopnick’s stance on the Civil Right’s movement (Kushner 91). Moreover, Mr. Stopnick says “she’s my first real conversation, let her stay” allowing Emmie to respond to him in friendly debate (Kushner 91). Once again Caroline refuses to let Emmie take part in the conversation. This second part of the exchange is crucial, as it shows that Caroline is not opposed to the conversation because of its potential implications for her job, but because she does not want to hear Emmie’s defense of the movement. This potentially shows a frustration that Caroline has with the local movement that Emmie is so fascinated with. Reasons for this frustration of the local movement could potentially stem from Caroline’s insecurities regarding change, as she struggles with change throughout the musical. Caroline’s job as a maid does not allow for progression along the socioeconomic spectrum. At …show more content…
Oppression can occur between people of the same group and within a single individual. This view is best shown through the character of Caroline as she struggles to face who she is throughout Caroline or Change. This struggle is most clearly shown in the song “Lot’s Wife”. In this song, Caroline confronts herself about her anger at Noah for wanting his twenty-dollar bill, her frustration at the civil rights movement, and her inability to attain her inner most desires. Caroline, contemplating her lifestyle choices, concludes that she must “slam that iron down on her heart, slam that iron down on her throat” because she cannot reconcile her actions (Kushner 117). Her anger, her frustration, and her pain regarding her societal situation accompanied by an inability to change anything about it has driven her to want to suppress her own emotions. This is seen when she asks god “what else, what else, what else” in reference to asking what else can she do to come to terms with her actions (Kushner 117-118). Caroline thinks that she has no options left. This most clearly shows a disconnect that is a result of her social situation, which is a direct result of oppression. On one hand, Caroline knows what is right and what type of person that she wants to be. On the other, Caroline’s actions are not the result of her own character, but the oppressive

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