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Comparing the Use of the Black in the South in Clotelle and Absalom, Absalom!

Project id 1002305
Subject area Other
Document type Essay
Words 1813
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Role of the Black from the Southern Family as Evidenced at Clotelle and Absalom, Absalom!     Southern Literature, over anything else, is a discussion of the family. And in the family, especially the Southern household, no wonder is as critical - or causes as many disputes - as "who belongs?" Southern Literature was, in many ways, a canon of exclusion. From a civilization built upon controlling and using an entire race for the express purpose of advancing a different, a canon of longing and despair is left. And in no place is this as clear as inside the family, the unit by character designed to nurture and encourage - and finally conquer. Stereotypically, the household longed for by each Southerner is just one of impeccable repute, a white triumph, clean of any African blood, with a heritage predating the Revolution and also a lineage reaching beyond the next millennium. Clotelle, by William Wells Brown, is an appeal to the Southern perfect that African-Americans don't and can not fit into the conventional, lily-white aristocratic familial structure that ruled the South throughout his time - and reigned for many decades thereafter. Traditional Southern canon emphasizes the Thomas Sutpens - of William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom! - that ejects African-Americans from his family (as he attempts to create a new one), and guys enjoy the Sheriff of Charles W. Chesnutt's "The Sheriff's Children," who sells a pregnant slave - carrying his unborn mulatto child - into captivity. The advancement and protection of someone's title is also highlighted by Sutpen and from Clara Hohlfelder in another Chesnutt narrative, "Her Virginia Mammy." These are ideals which Brown knows and resists, and tries - ultimately in vain - to withstand. Clotelle does not adjust itself to the tr...

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