Dutchman - Thematic Analysis Paper

Powerful Essays
Williams, Jae`da
June 19, 2012
ENC 1102 Dutchman Thematic Analysis
The phrase “racial tension” is a small description of the main theme in Dutchman by Amiri Baraka. While race is a vital part of the underlying messages in the play, it stems to a much broader term. In Dutchman Amiri Baraka attempts to grasp the attention of the African American society. Baraka uses Clay’s character to show readers that complete assimilation into another culture is wrong. He wants to awaken the African American men and women in a predominately Caucasian American culture to subconsciously kill the person that is portrayed by Clay in the play. Not only does Baraka want readers and audience members to kill their inner Clay, but refuse to conform to what is known as the “Average African American man /woman”. The post-thought process that takes place after reading or seeing the play is what triggers the desire to re-evaluate oneself in who they are and how they are portrayed in society.

In the article Dutchman Reconsidered by Thaddeus Martin, it is said that Lula’s whimsical and formless personality is Baraka’s way of saying that the freedom of whites is boundless, and Clays “Puritanical and Victorian” ways shows how blacks are condemned to suffer the furies of that freedom.(Martin 62) For example Clay and Lula’s dialogue in scene one: “Clay: Wow. All these people, so suddenly. They must all come from the same place. Lula:Right. That they do. Clay: Oh? You know about them too? Lula: Oh yeah. About them more than I know about you. Do they frighten you? Clay: Frighten me? Why should they frighten me? Lula: ‘Cause you’re an escaped nigger. Clay: Yeah? Lula: ‘Cause you crawled through the wire and made tracks to my side? Clay: Wire? Lula: Don’t they have wire around plantations? Clay: You must be Jewish. All you can think about is wire. Plantations didn’t have any wire. Plantations were big open whitewashed places like heaven, and everybody on ‘em was grooved to be there. Just



Cited: Galens, David M. Dutchman-Amiri,Baraka. Drama For Students. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1998. 141-59. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Cengage Learning. Web. 31 May 2012. Electronic Book. Piggford, George. "Looking into Black Skulls : American Gothic, the Revolutionary Theatre, and Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman." American Gothic: New Interventions in a National Narrative. Iowa: University of Iowa, 1998. 143-59. EBSCO Host. Web. 30 June 2012. Electronic Book. Martin, Thaddeus. "Dutchman Reconsidered." Black American Literature Forum 2nd ser. 11 (1977). Web. 23 May 2012. Online Article. Kumar, Nita. "The Logic of Retribution: Amiri Baraka 's "Dutchman"" African American Review 37.2/3 (2003): 271-79. JSTOR. Web. 23 May 2012. Online Article. Klinkowitz, Jerome. "LeRoi Jones: Dutchman as Drama." Negro American Literature Forum 7.4 (1973): 123-26. JSTOR. Web. 23 May 2012. Online Article.

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