Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts

Degree Discipline



A great revolution has taken place in American race relations in the past quarter-century. While this change is ascribed to many causes by various authorities on the subject, one of the most important factors has been the change of treatment of Negro characters in literature. The new manner of depicting the Negro role in literature has helped create for the Negro an atmosphere of acceptance.

Even though Negro authors have assumed the major responsibility of portraying their race, white authors, too, have reported and interpreted Negro life and characters. White authors, however, have based their interpretation on limited knowledge derived from an outside view and therefore have portrayed certain forces that have been called traditional and have been denounced by the Negro race.

Because Eugene Gladstone O'Neill depicts the Negro In a manner that poses no racial objection, his treatment of the Negro seems to be different from the "white" fiction that follows a telltale pattern. This American "white" fiction spins a plot of cruelty and violence or of fighting color prejudice and bettering race relations. Because the "white" novelist attempts to "let his reader determine what the Negro should do, say, and think instead of letting each individual character do, say, and think as an individual", He finds himself in a dilemma. The prevalent prejudices, consciously or unconsciously directed at Negroes, make it difficult for the writer to make a statement about them that will not lend itself to misconstruction. If he wishes to appeal to the popular taste, he will create a satisfying caricature of all that Ignorant or prejudiced whites like to believe is typical of the Negro, For some purposes it is ideologically effective to portray the Negro as both comical and contented, happy as a lark in slavery days on the eld plantation, singing the livelong day against a background of stately mansions and idyllic slave quarters. If the "white" writer is friendly toward the Negro, his approach may betray his unconscious condescension or his lack of understanding.


Prairie View Agricultural and Mechanical College


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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Date of Digitization


Contributing Institution

John B Coleman Library

City of Publication

Prairie View





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