African-American performance and theater history : a by Harry Justin Elam; David Krasner

By Harry Justin Elam; David Krasner

An anthology of serious writings that explores the intersections of race, theater, and function in America.

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Cassy tells Eliza that if she refuses to submit to Legree’s sexual advances, Legree will murder her as he has murdered others in the past. In the end, Cassy and Eliza formulate a plan of escape dependent on Cassy’s knowledge of Legree’s fears. They plan to have Eliza appear dressed asLegree’s mother in a bloody gown in order to scare him away. Cassy’s insinuations are essential to the success of the plan. She prods Legree’s fears about the haunted room where his mother died. Cassy tells Legree of the things that she has heard and seen in the room.

36 The mammy is a fiction that, in its representation, fulfills all of the criteria that Morrison proposes. Within the myths of black femininity of the nineteenth century, only the mammy is free of the taint of sexuality. Her physical traits place her beyond the pale of sexual attraction. However, like Topsy, her representation entails an excess, and the same traits that mark her as undesirable can be read as sexualized. Although the myth marks the mammy as a woman whose body is denuded of sexuality, in literature, as in reality, this separation is impossible.

32 Here, Stowe’s Cassy is her most threatening and subversive as she refuses to reproduce the slave children to maintain the system. She is similar to the Lemon-Taylor Cassy, who is willing to take a life in order to save her own, but she is an entirely different creature than the relatively helpless heroine who Aiken provides. Unlike the proactive Cassy of the novel, the Cassy of George Aiken’s text did not take the life of her child and does not establish the destructive potential of a violated mother.

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