Colonialism in Flyin' West Pearl Cleage

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Teatro Norteamericano GROUP B-3

Flying West is a play set in the town of Nicodemus, Kansas in 1898, and this play tells the story of black women (Miss Leah, Sophie, Fannie and Minnie) who have come west to build a new life for themselves, free from the racism and oppression of the South. Problems begin when Minnie returns from Europe where she has been living with her husband, Frank. Frank is waiting for an inheritance which will never receive. He mistreats Minnie and Miss Leah wants to protect Minnie so Miss Leah prepares a special pie for killing Frank.

In my opinion one of the most important topics in this text is the way Pearl Cleage deal with the influence of colonialism in one of the main characters: Frank. Frank is the son of a white slave-owner and a very light-skinned black, he is a mulatto, and in fact his mother was a Black slave who gets married with his father. These facts are decisive for the way Frank behaves in the play.

First of all Frank rejects his roots and he is ashamed of being a mulatto, he considers himself as an English person, and what is more he thinks England is the best country in the world: “FRANK: I had been away from England for almost a month and I hadn’t heard a note of Puccini in all that time”(40). Frank criticizes the way Sophie combs her hair, because Sophie combs her hair in the way black women combs it: a braid. “FRANK (Angrily): I want you to put your hair back the way it was.” In this way we can see how Frank is influenced by his father’s ideology and by the image of black society that colonialism gives us in that period. Secondly he insults her wife: Sophie, for being a black woman. “FRANK […] you’re too black to bring me any good luck” (55) and he insults other women like Minnie for example.

On the other hand Frank shows some behaviors that white men of that period shows for example capitalism , he only thinks in money and in sell Minnie’s land. “FRANK: Do you know how much that land is worth?”(64)

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