The Dutchman - Oppression of the Black Man

The Dutchman - Oppression of the Black Man

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The Dutchman - Oppression of the Black Man

The Dutchman is not a play that you would take a child to. There is no optimism, no hope of a better future, and certainly no hero. It did, however, point out several flaws in society, namely the white man's oppression black men. The entire conversation between Lula and Clay demonstrates that, even as society had become more aware of the social inequalities imposed on minorities, much of society still regarded minorities with utter contempt. It did not come as a surprise that the stereotypes that both white and black individuals were present in the play despite heightened public awareness at the time. Such stereotypes are evidenced by Lula saying, ". . .you're a well-known type . . . I know the type very well," and Clay responding, "Without knowing us specifically?" (12). Stereotypes are the first walls to break through when associating with a member of another race or culture. Lula's continual concentration on Clay's "Uncle Tom" stereotype seems to be not simply her own ignorance, but it symbolizes the entire white people's ignorance of black people before and during the early '60's.

At the end of the play, some of the root causes of most oppression--from forcing Native Americans on reservations to the lack of social equality at the time the book was written--is pointed out: tyranny of the majority and lack of sympathy for the oppressed. When Lula tells the people who are riding on the subway to "Get this man off me!," "Open the door and throw his body out," and "all of you get off at the next stop" (37), the crowd of people obeys without hesitance. The people in the subway--the majority--allow one man to be murdered and do not even give it a second thought. This is yet another metaphor for white people turning a blind eye to human suffering. Everyone gets off the subway, acting as if nothing has happened. The fact that the other

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123helpme.com/search.asp?text=black+man">black man, who gets on the subway at the end of the play, sits near Lula, suggests that this is a cyclical pattern. Lula's treatment of Clay did not seem to be new to her; it appeared as though this behavior was almost second nature to her. While this may come a surprise to those in an area where differences are more readily accepted, it did not come as a surprise considering the circumstances of the 1960's.

 

 
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