Black Family (Dys)Function in Novels by Jessie Fauset, Nella by Licia Morrow Calloway

By Licia Morrow Calloway

Throughout the Harlem Renaissance, competing rhetorics of racial uplift headquartered upon issues concerning type id and the method of acculturation into American society. This booklet demonstrates how the perform of motherhood and the association of family kinfolk operated to handle the urgent concerns dealing with the black group of the early 20th century. An exploration of such literary constructs because the tragic mulatto, the passing phenomenon, and the mammy lead to a revitalized knowing of ways the affects of racial intolerance, sexual oppression, and sophistication ideology mixed to impress a version of resistant black maternity within the early smooth period.

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Extra info for Black Family (Dys)Function in Novels by Jessie Fauset, Nella Larson, & Fannie Hurst (Modern American Literature (New York, N.Y.), Vol. 27.)

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Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois over industrial versus classical education, to which style of religious worship black people should embrace, to how to contend with Jim Crow segregation. Relations between the aristocrats and the masses were strained, at best. As one historian of the black elite notes, though privileged black people sought to uplift the rest of their racial community, they shrank from any personal association with them. ”55 Critics of Jessie Fauset and Nella Larsen contend that the novelists replicate this attitude of deliberate reserve toward the black masses.

Cayton, and E. Franklin Frazier’s contemporaneous work on the black class structure and the characteristics defining class position. 26 Landry’s position takes issue with the application of the term “class” in reference to the system of stratified social relations which obtained prior to the Great Migration of 1915–1920. Using principles of categorization established by Marxist and Weberian theory, Landry cogently argues that the black aristocrats or elites who maintained social precedence in the black community prior to 1915 should be considered a status group rather than an economic class.

B. Du Bois, and position on the editorial staff of Crisis magazine translated into a spot on the fringe of New York’s elite, but many of her younger Renaissance contemporaries considered her manner an affectation. Neither were they particularly enthused about Nella Larsen. Larsen’s perpetual evasiveness regarding her family background was symptomatic of her self-consciousness about her lack of pedigree in a social order where ancestral origins were so crucial to acceptance. The daughter of a racially ambiguous, working-class Chicago couple, she was estranged from her family because her complexion made her own African ancestry unmistakable.

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