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God’s Justice and Reality’s Justice: Lynching Issue and Angry Black Generation’s Activism in Aftermath

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2020, 33(1), pp.61-88
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama
  • Received : March 2, 2020
  • Accepted : April 14, 2020
  • Published : April 30, 2020

Jungman Park 1

1한국외국어대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Aftermath (1919), one-act play by Mary P. Burrill, dramatizes the story of a returning black US Army soldier from World War I. John returns to his home in South Carolina and learns that his father was lynched to death by a white man. The play ends with John leaving the house with his gun to punish this injustice. What stands out in the play is the conflicting attitudes between the old and new generations of black society, over the white lynching. Mam Sue, grandmother, speaks for the old generation's belief in God’s justice, insisting that the family endure and overcome the sufferings with the power of the Bible and faith. Her grandson John, a returning soldier, expresses the resistance of the new generation against the God’s justice. His position is summed up in the justice of reality, as symbolized by the pistol he brought home from the war. For John, the Bible’s words “love your enemies” are far from the reality he experienced in the war. What he learned in the real world is the justice of guns, which is to “git a good aim at ’em, an’ let huh go!” Finally, he leaves home with his pistol to punish the white devils' violence against his father and black people. John’s determination and activism suggests the angry young black generation’s new and painful understanding of the reality and their awakening of the real alternatives in need, foreshadowing the ‘aftermath’—the future of black human rights history that will lead to the rise of Harlem Renaissance and the New Negro Movement of the 1920s, and the Black Power Movement of the 1960s.

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