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Immitation Of Life: Tragic Mulatta Essay

1646 words - 7 pages

What are stereotypes? Can those stereotypes define our identity? Can your suppose “blood” defines us? I asked myself those questions while watching the Imitation of Life directed by John M. Stahl and based on the novel written by Fannie Hurst. The movie’s storyline is about a white woman (Bea) and her daughter (Jessie) gives the job of housekeeper to a black woman (Delilah) and provides her and her daughter (Peola) a place to live. The shows the differences of both girls growing up on the same house and because they have the same “skin color” they are treated as equal. This happens until the truth of Peola’s background comes to light. Peola started to feel embarrassed and discriminated because of her true identity and so decides to reject her mother completely. Bea and Jessie felt bad on how Peola treated Delilah but they couldn’t do anything to make Peola understand that she was doing wrong. It is not until at the end when Delilah died that Peola understood and regretted everything she did to her mother but it was too late for her to be forgiven. The tragic ending of Peola, even though she didn’t die, shows that when you are trying to be someone else or apparent something you are not; everything ends badly. Peola is not the classic tragic mulatta but she shows that your “blood” defines who you are.
Before starting, I think it will be a good idea to define what stereotype is because it has some effect in the movie. Stereotype is the thought or image of a particular person. In the case of black women some stereotypes are “overbearing, too outspoken, strong, angry, gold diggers, materialistic, oversexed, have lots of children, and unintelligent,” and even also “mammy stereotype.” Not all of these are the case for Delilah; she represents a more old way to think about black women. She is chunky, housekeeper, always happy to serve, and unintelligent (doesn’t want to leave Bea’s side) and this is only on my perspective. She was also a hard worker, charismatic, and capable of doing whatever she could to give her daughter the best living conditions. Those characteristics are not regarded when the stereotypes are presented. Now, how do these stereotypes affect the story? Well, I conclude that maybe after looking how her mother is seem and treated because of that, Peola just didn’t want to leave the same. Peola just wanted to live a better life; she didn’t want to work as a housekeeper like her mother. Stereotypes affect the way Peola looked at her mother and so to reject her. Maybe it is not Peola’s fault that those stereotypes existed but it is her fault for letting them get to her and to judge someone as her mother because of them.
Another big point on the movie was the big term “passing.” What does passing mean? It’s technically a consequence or a way to respond of the stereotypes, in my opinion. Passing is “stories in which the mixed-race character’s transgressive desire to escape her origins typically ends in the death of her ‘false’ (because...

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