Dutchman

Length: 3 Pages 696 Words

Imamu Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman is a play rooted in symbolism. It can be traced throughout the entire play: the language, the setting, the plot, the movement, the dialogue, and even the title, Dutchman, itself. Baraka does a good job intertwining both the realistic and symbolic in effort to get his theme across. Baraka’s fierceness and intensity really help to develop the symbolic nature of the play. This symbolism can be particularly seen in the exchanges between the two main characters; Clay, a rather well spoken and reserved Negro and Lula, a disreputable white girl. Immediately, it is obvious that racism and the plight of the Negro are the points or symbolic themes that Baraka is trying to portray. Baraka’s feelings on this subject are evident in his tone of range and anger. Lula plays a tantalizing and provocative role, constantly fooling around with words of racism and with Clay himself. “Come on Clay, let’s do the thing…You middle-class black bastard. Forget your social-working mother for a few secon Continue...


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His intense hatred toward racism and the unfair plight of the Negro are developed very strongly during the play, and eventually climax with Clay's verbal outrage. These lines do not just symbolize Clay's emotions, but also the emotions of a taunted black race. Her exhibition with Clay is all a game to her. An outrage, which I feel was totally justifiable. Clay's name is perculiarly similar to the dust of the ground that Adam was said to be created from. You ain't no nigger, you're just a dirty white man...That's all you know...shaking that wildroot cream-oil on your knotty head, jackets buttoning up to your chin, so full of white man's words. Baraka's continual symbolic reference to racism is what I felt was the entire issue that he was trying to express to our civilization: racism and ignorance kill. And Lula portrays the way that whites have always treated blacks. Along the racism theme, the title also reflects on the Dutch ships that brought black slaves to North America. As Howard Taubman put it in his review of Dutchman, "If this is the way one Negro feels, there is ample cause for guilt as well as alarm, and for a hastening of change. But all races are so quick to jump to conclusions and stereotype people without looking beyond their appearance. Symbolism can also be seen in the title of the play itself. After Lula has killed Clay, a new young Negro gets on the train and the journey begins again.

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