“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 during the time of segregation in the South, James was familiar with his role in his household and in society. After the death of his father, James was to carry more responsibility. However, in society, he was still considered a poor boy. According the Marxist theory, James and his family were considered the base of the economic system while those of the white race were the superstructure. In other words, due to economic standing, James would be controlled by the white individuals. The principles behind Marxism “are the basis of a system of thought that sees economic relationships as the source of class conflict” (Dobie 86). To complement such principles, Bruce Philip states that “one of the features of Marxian social science is that class is considered the basis for exploitation in different social systems” (338). From this perspective, James was exploited due to his low social class by those who held the social and economic power.
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...lp them, Octavia is suspicious and withdrawn. She tells Helena, “We don’t take no handout” (Gaines 304). In her own way, Octavia is ensuring that she will not be indebted to a rich, white person and, therefore, be deemed beneath him or her. While Helena’s offer was simply an act of kindness, it was a socially foreign gesture, which is why Octavia remained guarded instead of openly accepting.
“The Sky Is Gray” is riddled with inequalities. However, the racial and social inequalities are purposefully intertwined with the economic power of the time. Within all the issues that arose in the story, critics suggest that it is “important to ask how a given text contributed to the solution of social problems by the application of Marxist principles” (Dobie 88). For reasons such as this, it is important to consider the role of the Marxist principles within “The Sky Is Gray.”
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