Beat Generation

High school
Pages 3 (753 words)
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America in the 1960s was an arena of racial and communal conflict. LeRoi Jones explores this volatile situation in his play Dutchman(1964) through the words, actions and interactions of Lula and Clay who, at first glance, might seem to be rather obvious representations of either side of the racial divide.


When the play begins, the black man, Clay, is alone in a subway rail car. The stage directions imply that the beautiful white girl, Lula, has set her sights on him for reasons that should become clearer as the play progresses. She stares at him, and when he catches her eye, "begins very premeditatedly to smile" (4). He returns the smile "for a moment, without a trace of self-consciousness" (4). A little later he appears to regret this "instinctive" if "undesirable" (4) response and only becomes more confident when the train moves on and he hopes to be left to savor the pleasant memory of this "brief encounter" (4) by himself. Lula, however, seeks him out and takes a seat beside him, greeting him with a "Hello" (5). After accusing him of staring at her, of taking mental "potshots" of her "ass and legs" (7) she reveals in her first significant statement that she had boarded the train with the express intention of tracking him down: "I even got into this train, going some other way than mine. Walked down the aisle. . .searching you out" (7). This makes clear the fact that Lula had deliberately set her sights on Clay that day, for premeditated reasons of her own. In a sense, she seems to have made up her mind to hunt him down.
Clay is pleasantly aroused by the attention of this beautiful woman although he cannot make her ...
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