Chapter

“Is You a Nigger, Nigger?”

Edited by John Patrick Diggins

in Eugene O'Neill's America

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226148809
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226148823 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226148823.003.0008
“Is You a Nigger, Nigger?”

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Eugene O'Neill's interest in blacks and black history has generally been interpreted as expressing his own experience of deprivation and discrimination as a descendent of Irish immigrants. His compassionate treatment of African Americans implies more about the need of a writer to transcend his background than to express it. O'Neill first addressed the situation of the black ghetto in The Dreamy Kid. This play suggests what would become more explicit in O'Neill's future plays: that American culture could well have eroded any ties that may have sustained the core values of the black family. In The Emperor Jones it was as though O'Neill took the conventional Sambo image of the black male, humble and loyal, and presented an extreme counter-image of arrogance and pride, particularly the Christian pride that goeth before the fall. Finally, All God's Chillun shows the trauma of race relations and the human condition in general.

Keywords: Eugene O'Neill; The Dreamy Kid; The Emperor Jones; All God's Chillun; African Americans; Irish immigrants; deprivation; discrimination

Chapter.  8867 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

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