Sexual Morality Is Not Governed By Race Essays

Sexual Morality Is Not Governed By Race Essays

Length: 1433 words (4.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Better Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

In an argument developed further through heroine Sappho Clark, Hopkins uses Grace’s rape to demonstrate that sexual morality is not governed by race. Each woman responds to the loss of her virtue according to the dominant gender codes of her time. Grace, the Victorian fallen women, kills herself following her violation. The narrator tells us that “shortly after these events [the raid of the Montfort estate and the violation of her body], Grace Montfort disappeared and was never seen again. The waters of Pamlico Sound tell of sweet oblivion for the broken hearted found within their soft embraces” (71). The loss of reputation leaves Grace, as a Victorian fallen woman, with suicide as the only proper response. In this opening episode, Hopkins critiques the doctrine of Victorian “true womanhood” that argued it was better to die after suffering such sexual and moral “outrage” (69). By committing suicide, Grace not only submits to the restrictive discourses of “true womanhood” and ends her own life, she abandons her now enslaved children.
Grace’s adherence to the tenets of “true womanhood” also launches the novel’s critique of the sexism embedded in the ideology of the American Dream. At every turn, Hopkins links Grace’s suffering to the male obsession with profit and consumption. The introduction of Charles Montfort states that while “[h]e was neither a cruel man, nor an avaricious one” the drive for profit skewed his sense of morality: “he perverted right to be what was conducive to his own interests” (22). Montfort 's decision to move his family to the American South, a land that the narrator of Contending Forces repeatedly associates with wild, unrestrained, savagery, is represented as a perversion of morality in favor of commercia...


... middle of paper ...


...ly do public and political social constructions shape the details of intimate lives; those personal details also form comprehensive social practices and institutions” (9). This formulation allows us to understand Hopkins’ representation of the forging of black family ties as a microcosm for the national codification of race, class, and gender identities. In Contending Forces, Hopkins depicts the simultaneous founding and dissolution of two black families through sexual violence. Grace Montfort, upon being made socially and legally black, is raped and rid of any claim to her children. Later, Sappho Clark’s story of motherhood echoes this experience of rape and abandonment of her child. In representing rape across two generations, Hopkins situates racially-motivated sexual violence as foundational in the process of individual identity formation and also class identity.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Why Shouldn’t Tommy and Jim Have Sex? An Essay by John Corvino

- ... By this he means that society condemns sexuality that does not aid in assisting what natural law theorists find most important, reproduction. However, he disputes that non-reproductive homosexual relationships are immoral and unnatural, because the Catholic Church allows sex with sterile, pregnant and menopausal people. Each of these factors are not condemned as immoral by society even if they are indeed misusing the natural function of the organs. Corvino connects this argument about inconsistency’s to describe how homosexuality does not harm the self or others....   [tags: gay sex, morality, natural]

Better Essays
849 words (2.4 pages)

Essay on Same Sex Marriage Should Be Legal

- Same sex marriage is one of the important political matter discussed in United states today. With the legalisation of same sex marriage by the Supreme court, it has become a hot topic for debate nationwide. "Marriage is a unique kind of relationship that involves a man and a woman and their ability to create new life in the form of children.” The religious community in America is divided on the issue on same sex marriage and the morality of homosexuality. Though marriage is defined as the union between man and women, the legalisation of same-sex “marriage” is proposing something different....   [tags: Homosexuality, Same-sex marriage, Morality]

Better Essays
973 words (2.8 pages)

Stephen's Sexual Desire and Religious Morality Essay

- Throughout his life, Stephen is consumed by conflicting desires, the strongest of which being his sexual desire towards women versus religious morality. Confused and ashamed by these “sinful” thoughts, Stephen comes to view women in one of two extremes: they are either pure, virginal, and decent, like Emma, or impure, sexual, and corrupt, such as the prostitutes he visits in Belvedere. However, it is Stephen’s individual experiences with women from both ends of this spectrum that become the motivating factor behind both his art and personal growth as an artist....   [tags: sexuality, religion, morality, James Joyce,]

Better Essays
1499 words (4.3 pages)

Morality And Morality : Is Morality Important? Essay

- Morality is not exactly a widely discussed topic in today’s day and age. Morality in its most basic definition is principals concerning the distinction between right and wrong or good and bad behavior. What is morally right or wrong is a distinction that plagues the world. Morality isn 't the same from person to person, different cultures, some are universal, and some are just basic human emotion. I believe that morality is almost like a code of conduct or unspoken rules our very soul follows our entire life....   [tags: Morality, Ethics, Religion, Moral]

Better Essays
1142 words (3.3 pages)

Sexual Morality and Social Context Essay

- Sexual Morality “There must be integrity between body and life. You must not do with your body what you’re not willing to do with your whole life” (Keller). Keller is directly talking about our individual sexual morality and how or how not it should be perceived in a social context. Most people think sexual dilemmas of it in a broader spectrum, not directly related to one’s morality, by saying “this act isn’t right” where others may simply say “why not”. Yet, what justifies an act for one person and condemns it for another....   [tags: communal, benchmark, social, relationship]

Better Essays
1715 words (4.9 pages)

Race Between Race And Race Essay

- Since 1619, when the first slaves were brought to North America, race has played an important role in everyone’s life; especially those who are different from what people would consider “American”. According to the textbook, “race is defined as any group of people united or classified together on the basis of common history, nationality, or geographical distribution” (pg. 59). People are placed into different categories instead of all being considered human beings. Although we do not have slavery, that we know of, in the United States today, this does not mean that race is still not an issue....   [tags: Human, Race, Discrimination, Racism]

Better Essays
1829 words (5.2 pages)

Race And The Race Of Race Essay

- Everyone in this world now has an identity marker known as race. The race of a particular person refers to a relation to a specific group of people who tend to share similar physical and cultural characteristics. This creates an idea of a physical and cultural divide between different types of people. Race focuses on the division of people based on social standpoints and not biological ones, even though race itself is defined as both cultural and physical components. Race has been used to validate inhuman behavior in many historical periods such as slavery and genocide (Golash-Boza 2015, p.6-7)....   [tags: Race, United States, Racism, Slavery]

Better Essays
1210 words (3.5 pages)

The Morality Of Society 's Morality Essay

- Sigmund Freud believed that society has instilled morality upon us, exterminating our individualism. This morality eventually leads to neurosis, in which it becomes more difficult for us to maintain ourselves through the stress of society’s morality. I disagree with Freud, because I believe that morality isn’t forced on us externally, but internally through reason. As humans developed reason, we also developed a sense of morality through that reason. Freud believes that humans should do what they want because we shouldn’t restrict ourselves on society 's behalf....   [tags: Human, Religion, Morality, Thought]

Better Essays
1499 words (4.3 pages)

Race And Race : Race Essay

- Throughout the years, the term “race” has been viewed from different angles. In recent years, people have used physical characteristics like skin color to determine a person’s race. Over the years it has gotten a little overboard with all this assumptions such as forming opinions of their intelligence, sexual orientation, and personality. Race usually refers to the classification of human groups based on genetic physical differences as well as other differences like nationality and history. (Module 8) In the beginning, race was used to describe people who shared common occupations, tribe or nation....   [tags: United States, Race, Racism, Sociology]

Better Essays
726 words (2.1 pages)

Pornography and The Decline of Sexual Morality Essays

- Sexual morality has declined in America today. The immoral life can be seen all around us. We see it in drugs, alcohol, movies, magazines, gangs, teenage pregnancy, pre-marital sex, and society as a whole. A person can walk into almost any convenience store and purchase a magazine depicting naked women. Videos and movies with graphic sex scenes can be rented or watched in any movie theater. They have become more common than ever before. Almost every movie with an "R" rating will have at least one sex scene....   [tags: Pornography Essays]

Better Essays
1175 words (3.4 pages)