Marxist Criticism In Ernest Gaines's The Sky Is Gray

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“The Sky Is Gray” by Ernest Gaines gives insight and perspective into the life of a lower class, black boy in the 1930’s. The story can be analyzed through many different types of criticism. Some forms of criticism, such has new historicism, are obvious within the work while others, such a feminist approach, may be inclusive yet subtle. When considering the Marxist criticism, “The Sky Is Gray” demonstrates the role of economic power played in race, religion, and social status in the early twentieth century of Louisiana. “The Sky Is Gray” is about a boy, James, who travels with his mother to the dentist. James is aware of his family’s financial adversities, as well as their economic and social status. The title, itself, symbolizes the oppression that is presented throughout the story. Growing up…show more content…
“The Sky Is Gray” is a reminder of a time when segregation was still the norm. They were separated in all considerable aspects, especially socially and economically. They did not simply sit in another section of the restaurant but had to travel to another area of town to eat “where the colored people eat” (Gaines 300). Public transportation was not much different. Though there are plenty of seats near the front of the bus, James says he must choose the only seat near the back of the bus because he must “sit back of the sign” (Gaines 290). His statement lacks bitterness or discontentment towards the situation. In fact, James seems to say it matter-of-factly, as if he was simply saying that he can’t go outside due to the weather. The mindset of James is in accordance with that of Louis Althusser, a French philosopher who studied Marxism. Althusser states that “the working class is manipulated to accept the ideology of the dominant class, a process he called interpellation” (Dobie 88). In other words, James accepts his place at the back of the bus due to the system set by the white
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