The Character Of Clay In Amiri Baraka's The Dutchman

1487 words - 6 pages

The Character of Clay in Amiri Baraka's The Dutchman

Clay is not naive. He may be misguided, misled, and mistaken, but he is anything but naive. Clay is an individual who has shed the roots of his race, disregarding many of the cultural implications that such a decision could have on him. He is a misguided individual who, because he is human, does the wrong things at the wrong times for the wrong reasons. He continually struggles with his own identity and the power struggle between him and Lula. The notion of power dynamics in The Dutchman is brought forth in the character of Clay, who knows the limits of his power, takes the forbidden fruit from the more powerful Lula, and fantasizes about his own life.

Lula is clearly in control for most of the play. She constantly switches topics, keeping Clay off guard, and making sure that she controls the conversation. To a certain extent, Clay lets her manipulate him. While many conclude that this means Clay is ignorant of black culture, it is likely that he is somewhat of a docile person. This notion is brought up in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, when the invisible man's grandfather says, "Live with your head in the lion's mouth. I want you to overcome 'em with yeses, undermine 'em with grins, agree 'em to death and destruction, let 'em swoller you till they vomit or burst wide open" (16). In this passage, Ellison demonstrates the possibility of fighting the establishment and going along with what they say yet simultaneously planning against them. Clay may be subversively plotting against Lula at the beginning, or he could simply be recognizing Lula's power and authority. Clay is certainly aware of her power; right from the beginning, he seems to be afraid of her, as illustrated by the following:

LULA. Weren't you staring at me through the window? At the last stop?
CLAY. Staring at you? What do you mean?
LULA. Don't you know what staring means?
CLAY. I saw you through the window . . . if that's what it means. I don't know if I was staring. Seems to me you were staring through the window at me.
LULA. I was. But only after I'd turned around and saw you staring through that window down in the vicinity of my ass and legs.
CLAY. Really?
LULA. Really. I guess you were just taking those idle pot-shots. Nothing else to do. Run your mind over people's flesh.
CLAY. Oh boy. Wow, now I admit I was looking in your direction. But the rest of that weight is yours. (6-7)

Clay is timid in the dialogue, and he is somewhat taken aback or even embarrassed in the fourth line, when he pauses. As one might expect, he is awkward and timid when approached by an individual with a higher social status. Part of this is due to exterior appearances--the fact that Lula is white intimidates him. He doesn't totally deny staring at Lula, which could mean either that he was not staring at her or simply that he did not want to admit it, fearful of the consequences. Like invisible man's grandfather would want in...

Find Another Essay On The Character of Clay in Amiri Baraka's The Dutchman

Aspect of Race in Dutchman Essay

867 words - 4 pages Dutchman is a play by Amiri Baraka; it is a one act drama set in a train. Dutchman’s debut was in the Cherry Lane theatre in New York, more specifically Greenwich Village. The date of its debut was March 1964; on the date of its debut it also won an Off-Broadway award or the Obie award. In short this play features an African American man by the name of Clay who is on a train. On this train there is a woman by the name of Lula, she is older than

The Benefits of Clay Roof Tiles

719 words - 3 pages manufactured to withstand several environmental conditions but you need to make sure that you are installing the right one depending on the climatic conditions of the area. The most common type of clay tiles are: Slate - thin rectangular sections of rock that come in varying sizes and thicknesses. Plain Tiles - small rectangular sections of clay with a smooth or sanded surface finish. Pantiles - a distinctive clay tile with an 'S' shaped profile

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

1624 words - 6 pages a character can make change and find happiness in an oppressive world. These characters come to realize that the carnivalesque is the true way to live, and it is only when they wear the mantle full time that they find satisfaction in their life. In the German occupied Prague, the Jews have been earmarked for hardship and extinction at the hands of the Nazis. Joseph Kavalier, a young man of a bohemian Jewish family, spent his youth

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay

1642 words - 7 pages Extensive is perhaps the best word to use to describe The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Looking into such matters as anxiety, art, advertising, capitalism, Hollywood, loneliness, loss, war, physical disability, fatherhood, family, homosexuality, religion, escape, and exile, the novel covers social concerns that are almost as wide as the geographical experience of Joseph Kavalier, one of the two protagonists of the book, who in the

The Dutchman: A Dramatic Expression of the Relationship Between Whites and Blacks

1208 words - 5 pages Amiri Baraka’s The Dutchman would be considered a historical allegory that could be understood as this poetic and dramatic expression of the relationship between whites and blacks throughout the existence of the United States. These patterns of history are symbolically acted out by the two characters Lula and Clay; Lula represents white America and Clay seems to stand for the modern day Uncle Tom, who has over time been shaped by white America

Narrative Style and Character in James Joyce's Clay

833 words - 3 pages Narrative Style and Character in James Joyce's Clay For many readers, one of the most appealing factors within literature is often the dynamic representation of character. The idiosyncrasies and appearance of characters are often depicted in great depth and presented with a particular bias in mind. The brief format of the short story does not allow for great lengths of detail to be included

Literary Analysis: Clay and The Dead

1345 words - 5 pages the characters, Maria and Gabriel living in the Dublin society. Both stories take place during the winter on Halloween and Christmas, which are the holiday seasons and the season of death. In “Clay,” the main character, Maria is a patient, old woman and a former maid for rival brothers Joe and Alphy Donnelly. Now that they’re all grown up, she seems to be “lost” in her life, childless and unmarried, and is now an employee at a Laundromat. Maria

Discussing symbolism in the "lesson" by Toni Cade Bambara, And of Clay are we created by Isabel Allende and Hills like white elephant by Ernest Hemingway

1068 words - 4 pages Symbolism is one of the most important literary terms used often by many writers to convey their central idea. According to the Longman Contemporary Dictionary, symbolism can be defined as a device that evokes more than a literal meaning from a person, object, image or word. The author Isabel Allende in his short story, "And of Clay are we created," Toni Cade Bambara in "The lesson" and finally Ernest Hemingway the author of the short story

Gerard Baden Clay, the murder and disappearance of his wife - Forensics - Case Study

889 words - 4 pages 1. Develop a timeline of events leading up to and including the crime. Include information such as people that the suspect knew and his involvement/relationship with them. Gerard Baden-Clay married Allison in 1997 when they then had 3 kids together. In 2008 Gerard Baden-Clay met Toni McHugh through his work as a real-state agent which is when their affair began. Barely a year later a women named Melissa Romano and Gerard had phone calls about

The Character of Norma Jean in Shilo

565 words - 2 pages The Character of Norma Jean in Shilo       Norma Jean Moffit is a major character in Bobbie Ann Mason's "Shilo" who undergoes a profound, yet subtle change. She had to marry at the age of eighteen to the man who got her pregnant, and in a cruel twist of fate, the child dies suddenly of crib death. Now at the age of 34, she is ready to have the life she feels she always should have had, however she is stuck in a loveless marriage to a man

The Character of Falstaff in Henry IV

1687 words - 7 pages The Character of Falstaff in Henry IV                     None of Shakespeare's plays are read more than the first and second parts of Henry IV. Particularly in Henry IV Part I, Shakespeare writes chronologically historical and interesting to follow events. The reader follows the chain of events with devotion and content eager to find out what happens next. Even though the hero of the play is Prince Henry, or Hal as we know him, the

Similar Essays

Language In Amiri Baraka's The Dutchman

2053 words - 8 pages Language in Amiri Baraka's The Dutchman The popular saying "actions speak louder than words" is upended in Amiri Baraka's play, The Dutchman, where words, or in this case language, speaks louder than the actions of the characters, Lula and Clay. Language governs the characters and their actions, and is therefore a prominent feature in shaping the identities of Lula and Clay. In the play, Baraka conveys the significance of Lula and Clay

Binaries And Identities In Amiri Baraka's Dutchman

1427 words - 6 pages In Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman, the binary between black and white people embeds itself into the characters on the subway. Lula, who incorporates her image with control and deception through her white skin, represents one significant driving force. Clay, who faces manipulation from the oppressive white presence of Lula and the others on the train, has to step up and become an opposing force. Throughout these characters transformations from

The Life And Poetry Of Amiri Baraka

1121 words - 4 pages controversy. The debate was not over the police brutality, nor was it over the all-white jury; the debate was over a poem of Baraka's that was submitted into evidence. The poem, entitled "Black People" was about murder and theft of white people and their property, and the court claimed that it was cause for them to suspect that Amiri helped formulate the riot. This battle ended in a conviction for Baraka, which was later overturned in an

The History Of Clay Bricks Essay

1068 words - 5 pages The history of clay bricks, while somewhat resting in the murky depths of time, is no less dynamic as it is hopeful. This brief exploration begins by marking the discovery of clay and then draws into question of who may be responsible for the advent of the clay brick? While there may or may not be a definitive answer, the paper points out that once introduced clay brick making could be found in various parts of the ancient world. Once they were