Get Mixed Race Stereotypes in South African and American PDF

By Diana Adesola Mafe

Combined Race Stereotypes in South African and American Literature examines the preferred literary stereotype, the tragic mulatto, from a transnational point of view. Mafe considers the ways that particular South African and American writers have used this arguable literary personality to problem the good judgment of racial categorization.

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But stereotypes are themselves fluid characterizations rather than static iterations or the same figure being repeated ad infinitum like a paper doll chain. Cultural theorist Stuart Hall argues that stereotyping is a multilayered and hierarchical representational practice, which is usually (or initially) deployed by a dominant social group. ”37 Stereotypes are never entirely accurate because they are simplistic representations. But stereotypes are intended to function as recognizable stand-ins for larger social bodies.

Although she has moments of passionate defiance, G o d’s S t e p c h i l d r e n 43 such moments are short-lived and have no bearing on the grand scheme of things, namely tragedy. Elmira gives birth to the final tragic mulatto character, a son named Barry who can easily pass as white. Only at this late point in the novel does Millin imagine a half-caste character with any complexity. Although she maintains the authoritative and ethnographic tone of her narrator, Millin permits Barry a self-reflective and thoughtful manner that is unprecedented in the novel.

Much like Child, Millin was a prolific writer with a memorable three-part name who published some 30 books in her lifetime, many of them dealing with the theme of miscegenation. But the similarities arguably end there. Child was a nineteenth-century abolitionist who, whether successfully or not, used the trope as an antislavery device. By contrast, the twentieth-century Millin advocates neither racial equality nor racial uplift in her stereotypical depictions of mixedness. Rather, her fiction, often written in a pseudoscientific narrative voice, implies a segregationist agenda.

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