The northern cities in the factories seemed to be a dream which never materialized. The second wave of migration from 1910 to 1970 saw more than six million blacks go to the North, the south had no place for people of color.
Gaines novel presents not only the tension between the two races but also the manner in which the blacks were de-rooted from their heritage. By presenting his protagonist as a black man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time he shows the degradation as a facet of racism.
The Southern environment at the time was such that if a person was not white, they were not considered human. The blacks were forced to leave their homes without promise of a future and make a new life in a strange environment they knew nothing about. From agriculture they switched to factory work and still faced discrimination in their lives.
The theme of Gaines book is nothing new. There have been African American writers in the past and present that have outlined in various ways the persecution of the blacks in the South. Some have been acclaimed for their works and others have been read but not achieved the greatness they deserve. However, Gaines differs from other authors in a way that is hard to present. His use of rhetoric, his use of the African American lingo or slang and the vastness of his context in terms of history all combine together to create a critically acclaimed work.
Gaines writing gained recognition at a time when the society was slowly opening up to the African American society. They were realizing the havoc they had wrecked on the African American culture and were ready to come to an understanding-the book media was the first step towards this understanding.
While black women authors like Toni Morrison had already gained acclaim there was a dearth of literary black authors and writers like Gaines paved the way for a new time. Gaines moved from the violence of the history and began to write more about the African American experience. This created a new understanding of the black male who had been before this time, simply been seen as a dysfunctional figure. [Jaques, 1997]
Gaines work in a historical context
African American culture was virtually destroyed during the years in which their persecution took place. Thus, the experiences they had and the revival of their culture can only be explained through their own words. To establish a context research would be extremely difficult and most historians have taken oral histories from the people to establish their past. Researchers have tried to redefine literature for African Americans for they have to take into account spiritual wording, slave narratives and diaries of individual experiences.
The African American Experience was unbelievable in the sense that in a country like the US one community could so completely deprave another and so, because history and politics became interwoven the truth was changed. The African American experience was ignored and believed to be overtly exaggerated. It is