• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

American Studies - Migrations of identity in African American literature.

Extracts from this document...


English 278: American Studies: Migrations of Identity in African American Literature Carla Le Riche Malan 13763814 Professor Johnson 1 November 2002 Sound, symbolism and connotations of names used for the titles of the novels, "Invisible Man" and "Song of Solomon", characters and places, provides the reader with clues pertaining to the authors' chosen themes. Names may be directly, symbolically related to function as in Ralph Ellison's, "Invisible Man" by means of sound and connotation or deliberately misleading through inversion, as portrayed by Toni Morrison's use of Biblical inversions in "Song of Solomon". The incorporation of names that hold strong connotations in both the novels complicates the tapestry of explicit symbols and themes, as well as enriching mood and frame of reference. Both authors' incorporation of naming as a stylistic device is done alongside recurring structures, contrasts and other literary devices that help develop theme and mood. Ralph Ellison's title, "Invisible Man" and nameless protagonist, to which it refers, are used as a foreshadowing device of what it means to be invisible. Meaning is ascertained through the protagonist's character, experiences and emotions related to his "invisibility" and his perception of what it means to be invisible and without a fixed identity. The narrator points out that the fault lies in the beholder and is "A matter of the construction of the inner eyes, those eyes through which they look through their physical eyes upon reality." ...read more.


This also seems to mirror a dynamic evident within America as a whole. The Reverend Barbee initially sets up the reader, due to stereotypical connotations associated with what it means to be a reverend or a man of God in Western civilization. However, naming counteracts the assumption associated with what it means to be a reverend, upon analysis of Barbee's first name, Homer. Homer Barbee is blind like the Greek writer and his physical blindness results in symbolic emphasis of pretence and a story, which he can orally illustrate for others, but cannot see himself. In dramatic irony, the reader realises that this character is hiding behind his glasses whilst creating an illusion for the audience in the novel to see into and believe. Toni Morrison's title, "Song of Solomon", is further complicated by its external Biblical frame of reference to the book in the Old Testament and use of several Biblical parallels and Biblical inversions found throughout the novel. Many of the ideas, images and atmospherics from the Old Testament book are translated into Morrison's novel in the form of symbolism and parallels. The Biblical Song of Solomon is a dialogue of love poems written in alternating male and female voices. The speakers are concerned about power and are threatened by a king, just as the black characters in the novel are threatened by slavery and its legacy. ...read more.


Ruth Dead stands in contrast to Pilate in her differing perception of societal roles with regard to femininity. Ruth plays out society's expectations of her as a woman. She functions as a Biblical inversion to the Bible character that vowed to stay by her mother in law's side. "Where'st though go, I shall go." In contrast, Ruth Dead has a bond with her father, Dr Fostor. The surname "Fostor", holds further ironic implications by the connotations it manifests through sound. Ruth was "fostered" and felt cared for by her father, in contrast to the "deadening of her spirit" she has experienced as a result of her marital relationship with Macon Dead. Although both novels discussed, incorporate naming as an important stylistic device, it is important to note the differences the authors have used in employing names in order to contribute to their individual themes. Ralph Ellison has used naming as a contributory strategy according to which the narrator is able to question whether a "fixed identity" exists, or whether his experiences and situations which he feels shape him, delineate a perpetual state change as explored by the theme of invisibility. In contrast, Toni Morrison migrates her protagonist, Milkman, towards an understanding of himself, and his identity, through the discovery of his African ancestry and the portrayal of the central flight motif linked to this liberating discovery. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Comparing poems section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Comparing poems essays

  1. Compare the presentation of significant moments of personal identity in ‘Unknown Girl’ and ‘The ...

    the henna on her hand but also in a week she will be back in England where her roots and heritage will go back to being English and her Indian culture will fade away like the henna no her hand.

  2. Discuss Merle Hodge'S Crick Crack Monkey As a Novel

    These episodes where Tee is made to be surrounded by the people of Trinidad are made to contrast with the isolation and the loneliness which Tee is made to feel at her Aunt Beatrice's place: "these scenes set up a contrast to the loneliness the narrator-protagonists will experience once removed

  1. Discuss the Reasons Browning(TM)s Characters Have for Murdering Their Victims

    The Duke in My Last Duchess can be described as a controlling, egocentric and power loving. The first lines of the poem suggest there is something wrong, 'That's My Last Duchess painted on the wall, Looking as if she were alive,' as if she were alive implies that she is

  2. What View of African Culture is portrayed in Veronica(TM) giving a personal view(TM)?

    Most of which seem to be supporting the need for westernising such places and get rid of their beliefs and customs. Probably the most sensitive and talked about concept that the story addressed is the condition of African women in such places.

  1. Frederick Douglass Passage Commentary

    He feels the fear of being recaptured. The metaphor he uses here is that of water to fire--the fear makes the fire-like enthusiasm of being free dampened and thus less. Immediately there is another transition, marked by the initial use of "But" in line 22. Greater than the insecurity is the loneliness.

  2. Signalman and Red Room analysis

    to make us feel the emotional reaction. After the signalman's death we feel the narrator was part of it. We are left asking the same questions that the narrator is asking such as: 'could this be explained?'. This is purposely meant so that we keep wondering and creating reasons to explain the incident.

  1. Travel literature

    Throughout his observations, Thomson has always compares the 'Local Culture' to his own 'Home Culture'. The 'Home Culture' has become a kind of yardstick for his view and reasoning about the 'Local Culture'. After Thomson was better acquainted with Krum-mun-alongkot, he was introduced to his family circle.

  2. Cultural Appropriation and Its Affects On Other Cultures.

    which they appropriate from; by expressing oneself through appropriation a person also has the chance to speak out on topics such as racism and stereotypes, which can be denied the opportunity to members of some cultures.3 In the documentary film "If Only I Were an Indian" gives a Cree couple

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work