Maureen Peal & Imitation of Life

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Imitation of Life is about Peola Johnson, light skined black girl who tries to go through life as a white person. To achieve this she ostracises her family. She breaks all ties with her black mother and her culture and tries to fit into this community in which she really has no place.

"It's because of you, you made me black! I won't be black!"

The problems Maureen Peal and Peola Johnsson share are as serious as the ones the young blck girls have in the bluest yes.

According to Sandy Flitterman-Lewis:

In each film's representation of the transgressive woman-the black daughter who looks white, and who, because of the contradiction between being and seeming which defines her, can fit comfortably into neither culture-there is a correspondence between feminine sexuality and alterity which results in a sexualization of the radical 'otherness' of the black woman. (44)

This is instrumental to the development of Pecola’s charater. This is also instrumental to the fate she meets in the end. Pecola and Peola are similar, not in their looks but in their situations. Pecola does also live between two worlds like Peola but in a different manner. Peolas’s problems are serious and the implictions are serious and extensive. According to Flitterman-Lewis, the mere term mulato brings up miscegenation, and theerfore leads people to think of “forbidden sexual relations and the impossible mixing of races" Flitterman-Lewis 46).

Pauline is so immersed into images projected by the screen that her daughter is named after Peola. Nevermind that mother nor daughter is mulatto like Peola.

Nornally a mother would not want her daughter to be in such situations yet Pauline names her daughter Pecola and embraces the beauty ideals and Maureen’s mother embraces the film. Maybe in someway she felt a kinship[ with Pecola because she would understand her position.


Blumler, J G & Elihu, K (1974) - Sage Annual Reviews of Communication Research Vol.3, The Uses of Mass Communication: Current perspectives on gratifications research. CA:Sage

Christian, Barbara. Black Women Novelists: The Development of a Tradition, 1892-1976.

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