Essay on The Women in Richard Wright’s Uncle Tom’s Children

Some critics have argued that Richard Wright’s women are “flat, one dimensional stereotypes, portrayed primarily in terms of their relationship to the male character”. (Quote, p540) However, in Uncle Tom’s Children, Wright resents three very distinct types of female characters who did not fit this description. Wright portrays women as an Avenger, a Sufferer and a Mother figure whose actions propel the stories to their final conclusion. In the story “Bright and Morning Star” Wright places the protagonist, Aunt Sue, in a domestic environment. “Her hands followed a lifelong ritual of toil” (pg222) as she cleans and cooks. Interestingly, Aunt Sue is the only heroine in the stories, who shows a different type of bravery than perhaps shown by the male figures in other stories. She is brave in the face of the loss of her two sons; she is brave as she does not show weakness to the white men who attempt to control her and make her do their bidding. She does not allow herself to be bound by the conventions of society. She speaks her mind to the white men who invade her home and states “Ah don’t care who Ahm talking t!” (pg238). Aunt Sue is portrayed as a cunning woman, who hides behind men’s perception of her as weak and uses it to her advantage. Her final act of bravery in the story is to giver herself up to death, before the white men can take her life from her. Wright also portrays women as sufferers in his work. Sarah, in “Long Black Song” suffers from isolation and is stuck in a loveless marriage. The gap between men and women is very much evident in this story. Sarah is very much dependent on Silas for company, security and items of comfort. Silas is allowed to exceed from the isolation imposed on his wife. Even when Sarah flees from …

… to Sarah, they “git up with the sun” and “it gits dark when the son goes down”.(pg?) Silas has attempted to break the barriers which are in existence, however, his prosperity does not aid him at the end of the story when the white community seek revenge from him. A class system is also evident in “Big Boy Leaves Home” from the very beginning of the story. It is clear to the reader that Big Boy is a leader in his group of friends and is clearly the strongest out of the group. Another class division is evident within the community itself. Big Boy’s father turn to members of the community who are older and wise to seek advise to alleviate the dire situation which they find themselves in. this class system works well together and because of the assistance form those of a higher standing, Big Boy manages to escape the horrific punishment which is visited upon Bobo.

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