Most literature authors write stories on different genres like poems, stories, and plays. These works are written using a variety of elements of literature for instance setting, themes, conflict, and characters. The following essay discusses the element of racism as a theme in Margaret Laurence’s short story “The Loons,” Langston Hughes’ poem, I Too, Sing America, and W.E.B Du Bois’ book, “The Souls of Black Folk.”
“The Loons” is a short story that was done by Margaret Laurence together with other stories in the sequence “A bird in the House” and was published in 1970. The story centers on the narrator and the main character Vanessa McLeod, a white girl and her youth days in a fictional town known as Manawaka, Manitoba in Canada (Laurence, 2001). From Vanessa’s eyes, the audience is able to see the alienation and racism that Piquette Tonerre, a girl of Métis origin faces in society. The story has been set just before Vanessa’s father passes on and it helps her to open her eyes and see the suffering, cultural alienation, and racial discrimination of the Métis people a subgroup of the Canadian Aborigines.
In the first part, Vanessa finds the Métis to be people who do not fit in the society due to their unknown descent. Her grandmother describes the Métis to be people of “…neither flesh, fowl nor good salt herring” (Laurence, 2001). This statement describes the people who are French half-breeds and their language is neither French nor Cree. These people do not belong to the Creoles who live on the mountains and neither to the French. They are a people who society alienates and discriminates because they do not belong. Grandmother McLeod does not want anything to do with Piquette. At one point, the McLeod family is planning to go for a trip. Vanessa’s father, Ewen invites Piquette. Grandmother McLeod refuses to go if the “half-bred” youngster comes along. This is a clear indicator of social prejudice. Piquette’s attitude and world is misinterpreted and misunderstood because the dominant whites chose so. Beth, Vanessa’s mother also feels that Piquettes’s company will affect her children. Vanessa’s father’ good intention of inviting Piquette to their holiday trips illustrates the theme of racism and social alienation in the story.
Piquette refuses to acknowledge the invitation to play with Vanessa. Vanessa asks her “want to come and play?” She retorts sharply with a scorn “I ain’t kid” much to Vanessa’s surprise (Laurence, 2001). This illustrates the nasty experiences of racial and social alienation that Vanessa has gone through. She does not want to be friendly to the whites. The Métis are a rejected lot and she feels things should remain the way they are. This shows that she had been hurt by the whites and does not trust any of them. Piquette feels that she can do nothing much when it comes to bridging the gap between the whites and the Métis and ignores all the attempts to socialize with Vanessa. The whites have a...