The Representation of Racial Tension in Baraka’s Dutchman Essay

1921 Words 8 Pages
In the 1964 play Dutchman by Amiri Baraka, formally known as Le Roi Jones, an enigma of themes and racial conflicts are blatantly exemplified within the short duration of the play. Baraka attacks the issue of racial stereotype symbolically through the relationship of the play’s only subjects, Lula and Clay. Baraka uses theatricality and dynamic characters as a metaphor to portray an honest representation of racist stereotypes in America through both physical and psychological acts of discrimination. Dutchman shows Clay, an innocent African-American man enraged after he is tormented by the representation of an insane, illogical and explicit ideal of white supremacy known as Lula. Their encounter turns from sexual to lethal as the two along …show more content…
They aid in the removal of Clay’s body, yet observe the entire scenario as ignorant bystanders through the entirety of the play. This idea of removed and nameless people in the background can be closely related to the American people, throughout history, who chose to ignore racial discrimination and simply followed the status quo. The mobile function of the train is a representation of time, the passengers are collectively moving forward working toward a common goal to get from one location to the next. The frightening silence of the subway cart and the people who not only ignore but aid in the social and racial injustice of this place displays the conformist attitude of Americans who deliberately chose to ignore what W.E.B Du Bois deemed the problem of the twentieth century, is “the problem of the color line.” The early interaction between Lula and Clay romanticizes the idea of a harmonious relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed. As the two characters spark their conversation over sexual innuendos and flirtatious fantasies. The play’s exposition begins with a friendly attraction. Clay’s character continues to laugh and ignore the outlandish statements made by Lula, which allows their conversation and relationship to advance. The audience uncomfortably watches as Lula makes direct jabs at Clay’s behavior, attitude, clothing and educational background. Every little poke pushes him further, yet he refrains from sparking an

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