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Mulatto


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A: Langston Hughes Pf: 1935 Pb: 1963 G: Trag. in 2 acts S: The Big House, plantation in Georgia, 1930s C: 9m, 2f, 1 child (m)Colonel Thomas Norwood, a rich plantation owner, has fathered several children with his long-suffering black housekeeper Cora Lewis. Two of his ‘mulatto’ children, Sallie and Robert, impress their father sufficiently for him to send them to be educated in the freer atmosphere of the north. When Sallie returns home, she is seduced by the Colonel's evil overseer Talbot. Robert is much less compliant than Sallie and now feels himself the equal of his white compatriots. However, when he demands of his father that he be treated as a white, the Colonel, furious at his son's perceived impudence, threatens to shoot him. Robert strangles his father, and, in order to avoid falling into the hands of a lynch mob, commits suicide.

A: Langston Hughes Pf: 1935 Pb: 1963 G: Trag. in 2 acts S: The Big House, plantation in Georgia, 1930s C: 9m, 2f, 1 child (m)

Mulatto is notable as the first full-length play by an African-American writer to be performed on Broadway, where it ran for 373 performances, while it was banned in other cities because of its controversial depiction of so-called miscegenation. Sadly, despite its worthy intentions, this play by ‘the Poet Laureate of Harlem’ reinforces the stereotype of the primitive half-caste, who, like Abe in Green's In Abraham's Bosom, resorts to violence when pushed to his limits.

Subjects: Theatre — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Langston Hughes (1902—1967) American writer


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