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Wedding Band


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A: Alice Childress Pf: 1966, Ann Arbor Pb: 1974 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Black homes, South Carolina, 1918 C: 3m, 6f, 2 children (f)Julia Augustine, a black woman, has just moved into the middle house in a block of three surrounding a backyard. For ten years, contrary to racial laws she has been the lover of Herman, a white man who runs a bakery shop, and wears his ‘wedding band’ hidden on a chain round her neck. Both would like to acknowledge their relationship openly, but this would be possible only if they can move to New York City. However, Herman feels a responsibility to his mother and sister Annabelle, especially as he is trying to pay off a debt to his mother which financed his bakery. While secretly visiting Julia, Herman falls seriously ill with influenza, and her landlady, horrified at having a white man in a black neighbourhood, orders her to ‘Get him out of my yard.’ Herman's mother and Annabelle arrive to take him home, provoking a clash of cultures between the intolerant whites and the resentful blacks, one of whom Mattie has a husband whom she hardly sees because he is forced to work away from home. Herman's mother tells of her unhappy marriage to a drunkard and of her seven babies, only two of whom survived. Annabelle begs Herman to abandon Julia and to marry his mother's choice of bride, so that Annabelle is free to marry the man she loves. Finally, while Herman and Julia steadfastly cling to their doomed love, he dies.

A: Alice Childress Pf: 1966, Ann Arbor Pb: 1974 G: Drama in 2 acts S: Black homes, South Carolina, 1918 C: 3m, 6f, 2 children (f)

Subtitled ‘A Love/Hate Story in Black and White’, this early and untypical play by Childress provoked controversy because of its representation of a sexual relationship between blacks and whites, an American version of a Romeo and Juliet love which cannot survive amidst intolerance and rejection by both racial groups. In Childress's generous and therefore much criticized portrayal, working-class whites like Herman are seen to be victims too.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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