Theme Paper for Genres of African American Literature

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Intro. To African American Lit. 202-05
Professor McCollin
October 19, 2012
Theme Essay
The introduction to African American literature course can be broken up into time periods and styles of writing. Four very popular styles of writings include the folklore and traditions, slave narrative, rural, and urban living genres that bring about different depictions of African American life. In this paper, these four genres will be analyze with themes and dramatizations to further emphasize the point and realness of each excerpt. In the folklore and traditions section of the text used in this course, Stagolee, on page 74 stood out amongst the rest. In this excerpt, Stagolee, the main character, comes off as nonchalant, hard, and rigid. His actions and gangster-like persona causes him to earn the reputation of a “bad man”. Through discussion, it was learned that his “bad man” type of behavior struck fear, envy, and/or idolization within the people he encountered. This bad behavior which often times lead to violence can be looked at as theme for this particular piece of literature. Below is a fictional account of Stagolee’s bad man lifestyle. May Lyons testimony on the passing of her brother Billy Lyons by Stagolee: “That damn Stagolee. Always walkin’ in the juke late with an attitude. As if the world dun paid him no attention. He sit in that same spot, o’er there in that corner, just watchn’ with that grimace on his face. I often thought about askin him why he was so mean. But I aint ready to die. That damn Stagolee has a temper and a trigger finger as quick as a project roach. I seen him walkin’ down Peach Ave and hit a man in the face with the butt of his revolver. All cause he starred to long. I guess that’s what you get when you mess with the damn Stagolee. He was a baaaaad man. And not in a good way. He even made my older brother scared. He wont say it, but every night Billy says “May Lyons, don’t you be tryin to be the voice of reason for that man, he got gasoline draws and up to his waist in his grave, you cant help him girl”. I guess he was right. But I learn the hard way. Should have known that damn Stagolee was set in his ways and who was I to change him. That damn Stagolee ruined my life. Stagolee asked me to get him a dry whiskey. I had three orders in front of me but he aint care. He pulled out his 45 and said “Ho, if you don’t make my damn drank, you gon see yo heavenly father a lot sooner than judgment day”. I can even tell you what I poo’d in that man cup. I slid that drank down the bar so fast half of it spilled on his hand before he could fully grab it. You know Stagolee was mad then. He started hoopin’ and hollen, causin a scene, talkin’ bout how ima pay for spillin his drink. My boss came out and told Stagolee to calm down before Billy come down here. Stagolee wont scared. Fifteen minutes later Billy runnin in questionin people about that damn Stagolee’s whereabouts. All I knew next the lights went out and my poor brother was layin on the ground. Shirt all bloody, eyes locked on me. I ran o’er there and held Billy til God took his soul. My heart died that day.Billy told me to leave Stagolee be. Why I aint just walk the cup to him. Why I aint just hand him his drank, lawd. Now my Billy dead, cause of that damn Stagolee. He got locked up that night. Sentenced to twenty years. But he aint care, some girl walked in the courtroom and gave that damn Stagolee a 45. He was shot right in the head by the police. God mustve had a better plan for me cause I sho was gona shot that mammyjammering jive negro right in his mouth. But now I have peace and a life to start over. R.I.P to my poor Billy.” The second section of literature observed in this course was slave narrative. Slave narratives were often told in first person. They expressed the hardships experienced by the slaves. In example, the loss of family, horrible living and working conditions and other brutalities are just a few of the adversities they faced...
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