Saturday, February 9, 2008

Racial Identity

Calling all English geeks...

For my short story class, I need to compile 10-15 American short stories that have to do with minorities struggling with coming to terms with their identities. How do they cope/deal with the divided consciousness of their race and of being "an American?"

The short story should answer one, if not all, of the following questions that I've posed in my topic:

What attitudes did minorites have on assimilating into the American culture and forming an "Amercian" identity?

How are American identities shaped for minorities in the American short story?

What were pressures that forced them to conform? What did they sacrifice?

How did minorities deal with, respond to, and react to a divided consciousness?

My examples:
"Why My Father Was the Only Indian who Saw Jimi Hendrix Play the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock" by Sherman Alexie, "School Days of an Indian Girl" by Zitkala-Sa, "Its Wavering Image" by Sui Sin Far, "America and I" by Anzia Yezierska, "How to Tame a Wild Tongue" by Gloria Anzaldia, "Reena" by Paule Marshall, and "The Almost Black Boy" by Willard Motley.

If you have any story ideas in mind, let me know. I'd like the help! I have about seven good examples right now, but I need more! Thanks!

1 comment:

Megan said...

When I hear of a fellow English Geek in need of help, I'm prepared to rise to the challenge...

So... I present to you "The Story of a Dead Man" by James Alan McPherson. I read this in the short story class that I took while in community college. It's basically the story of two black cousins, one an alcoholic and the other, a determined and self-directed man set on ridding himself of classic southern black characteristics. He marries a classy and upstanding woman in Chicago, but is quickly reminded of his southern roots when his alcoholic cousin arrives for a visit with the man's wife and her family. It's kind of an interesting story.

Here are the guided reading questions from the textbook... I dont know if the full text is available anywhere online, so you might have to do some digging.

1. Like the Raymond family, we can learn much about Billy Renfro by listening to the way he talks. THe same is true for the narrator, William. What does their language reveal about these men?

2. The narrator's attitude towards his cousin is a complex one, composed of many contradictory feelings. Describe that attitude. Do you share William's assessmen of Billy in all it's particulars? Explain.

3. How does each of the five or six anecdotes the tells us about Billy Renfro contribute to our understanding of him?

4. Why does Billy Renfro have the power to horrify Mrs. Raymond and her daughter Chelseia? Why does Mr. Raymond respond so warmly to him? Why does he react as he does when Billy removes his glasses, revealing that he has lost an eye?

5. From the time he was an adolescent, William has been pursuing one dream, one goal, with single-minded energy: middle-class respectability and conventionality, which have until recently been defined in America by whites. Describe his progress toward that goal. What has it cost him?

Well... I hope that this helps... There are a few other stories that came to mind as I read your post... I'll let you know once I have a chance to read them and refresh my memory :o)