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A Racial Myth and the Consciousness of Its Victims: the Case of O’Neill’s All God’s Chillun Got Wings

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2016, 29(2), pp.87-110
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Paek, Hwan-Kie 1

1대진대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Eugene O’Neill, a white American playwright, is a pioneer for the issue of Afro-American dilemma in the 20th century in America. O’Neill has an acute awareness of the limited social possibilities for blacks in his time. All God’s Chillun Got Wings, one of his negro plays, dramatized the tragic failure of the marriage of a black man, Jim, and a white woman, Ella. Interracial marriage in the play aroused much heated discussion among many of its reviewers as well as critics. Jim, a kind, hard-working man trying to better himself, has spiritual suffering from the double consciousness, which is mainly related with white assimilation. O’Neill represents this black double consciousness as trapped and inescapable fate. So Jim eventually meets a tragic denouement remaining as derelict. Ella, torn between love and hate, finally breaks down, and goes insane. Although she recognizes the goodness of Jim, she does not love him and is driven to vent her own self-hatred upon him and his race. Ella is a victim of a racial myth as well as a symbol of white assimilation. Assimilation to the American society is a vice to black people who try to overcome the double consciousness. Ella is a dramatic device as white assimilation which tempts Jim. Through All God’s Chillun Got Wings, O’Neill gives the message that the racial myth could destroy the consciousness of the white as well as that of the black.

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