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Analysis of Florence by Alice Childress

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Introduction

Florence Analysis by John Doe This 1950 play by Alice Childress takes place in a train station waiting room in a very small town in the south. The play describes how Miss Whitney, an old black woman, discovers that her premonition of the success of her daughter, Florence, as a black actress is undesirably similar to that of a racist, white society. This troubling discovery has just as strong an impact on the reader as it does on Miss Whitney. This drama teaches the reader how the views and opinions of individuals or groups can influence other individuals or groups to approach situations with the same reaction, although their views and opinions may be opposite. Marge, Miss Whitney's other daughter, first introduces this frame of mind to as she accompanies Miss Whitney at the train station. They sit in the "colored" section of the train station while Miss Whitney awaits a train to Harlem to convince Florence to come back home to the south. Florence fled to Harlem with ambition of being an actress. ...read more.

Middle

(Childress. 1322) Mrs. Carter is on her way back home to New York City. Although she thinks of herself as being beyond the racist state of the south, we are immediately exposed to her racist mentality as she speaks her first word, "Boy," (Childress. 1322) referring to the porter, a fifty year-old black man. As she paces back and forth in the white side of the room, Mrs. Carter begins a conversation with Miss Whitney. During the conversation we learn about Mrs. Carter's brother, Jeff, a writer, who recently received bad reviews on his last book. Mrs. Carter explains that the story is about a black woman who looks white and eventually kills herself because she is ashamed of being black and doesn't fully belong. The most interesting part of the conversation is when Mrs. Carter explains the reason this woman killed herself. Mrs. Carter explains the ending scene in a way that she believes makes it obvious that the woman committed suicide and what her reason was for doing so. Yet Mrs. Carter doesn't figure it out because she can't comprehend how the two ideas would connect, not because she's stupid, but because her train of thought understandably cannot grasp how being black would be a reason to kill one's self. ...read more.

Conclusion

This infuriates Miss Whitney. As Mrs. Carter leaves to the restroom, Miss Whitney falls into deep thought. She then writes a brief note on paper and puts it in an envelope with the check then asks Mr. Brown to put a stamp on it and mail it for her. She tells Mr. Brown that the letter to Florence read, "Keep trying." (Childress. 1329) The ending to this play has a powerful message. Before Miss Whitney's conversation with Mrs. Carter, she felt Florence wouldn't make it as an actress. After realizing that a racist white woman felt the same way, Miss Whitney reevaluated her reasons for wanting Florence to come home. Realizing her reason's weren't much different, she felt the best thing to do is to encourage Florence to follow her dream no matter how hard it may be to achieve, rather than make her believe it was impossible, just as the white society wanted her to believe. Once this message is conveyed to the reader you can't help but look upon your own past and wonder if you've ever been guilty of letting somebody else's opinions influence what you believe is or isn't possible. This play teaches us to be more open-minded as well as not being a hypocrite. ...read more.

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