The Kitchen By Henry Louis Gates Essay

The Kitchen By Henry Louis Gates Essay

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To illustrate “In the Kitchen” Henry Louis Gates shapes an identity of a young person growing up in a lower class black community and also the community as a whole in Piedmont, America in the fifties and sixties when the Black Civil Right Movement was taking place. The identity is based on his life and upbringing with his “mama” and the ways they used the kitchen for straightening their kinky hair to make them fit in with the wider community. Gates has developed the identity of an African American community who are frowned upon in the wider community due to having kinky hair instead of straight and also the struggles they went through in their everyday lives through many techniques used within the development such as textual form, figurative language, idiom, and tone.

The textual form throughout the text shapes an identity of an African American community where a young boy talks about his memories of growing up in a lower working class black community, who do their hair in the kitchen to turn kink in straight hair. Gates and his mother did not have their own home and could not afford living costs so they had to move into a friend’s house. Gates says “We had no shower until we moved down Rat Tail Road in Doc Wolvertons house in 1954” (41). This implies that the mother and her son were living in poverty since they could not afford a home that was functioning or stable to live in. Another example that creates the identity of African American communities is being frowned upon and not being treated as an equal due to differences of their hair is in the text where Gates says “My Mother furtively examined my daughter’s kitchens whenever we went home for a visit in the early eighties. It became a game between us because I did not like t...


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...nd how they looked. For instance, Gates stated “Mr Charlie would conceal his Frederick Douglass mane under a big white Stetson hat which I never saw him take off. Except when he came to our house, late at night, to have his hair pressed” (Gates 43). As a result, it shows that he was too embarrassed to be seen in public because he did not want to be personally invaded or harassed for having a different hairstyle to the whites.

Overall, Henry Louis Gates constructs an identity of a black community in the text, “In the Kitchen”. He shaped the identity through techniques such as textual form, figurative language, idiom and tone. The techniques were used to elaborate how the African American Community felt, how they were treated due to differences of their hairstyles and what it was like growing up being separated from other members of the wider community.














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