The movie also concentrates on portraying the economic inequality between the two races as the women become somewhat of unequal partners in a pancake business. A business that brings the White woman riches beyond her wildest imagination and nothing but extreme sadness due to her lot in life to the Negro woman who started it all for Bea. The movie effectively plays on the racial stereotypes that existed at the time between the racially divided American society. Openly showing off the fact that colored women had no chance to get ahead in the White dominated world regardless of their inborn abilities simply because of their skin color. Delilah was reduced to the backroom position in a pancake business that should have been her own or at least been given equal partnership in since she owned the recipe that made Bea rich beyond her wildest dreams. However, her skin color prevented any sort of straightforward participation for Delilah in the business. Bea could have simply taken the recipe and run. Instead, Delilah was given 20 percent of the profits because that was all that Bea felt she was entitled to. Imitation of Life is a salute to the economic abilities of the Depression era women who found themselves without a husband to support them for one reason or another. The movie clearly depicts the travails and pitfalls that befall women who need to create an income for themselves in order to support their families during a time when the American society frowned upon women who took on real jobs in the world. Rather than portraying Bea as a woman who took the arms of various men for economic stability, she was portrayed as a shrewd businesswoman who never passed on an opportunity to strike out on her own when she had a chance to do so. One thing was clear to the viewers who were intently watching this film though. These types of opportunities were only present for the White women. Black women were to languish in slavery as the maids disguised as friends of the White woman. The film has a strong point of view when it comes to the stability of character and personality of the two main female characters. Bea is the “modern” woman who knows how to make her way in the world using her female charms. Delilah on the other hand is offered up to the audience as the image of a self-sacrificing woman who wants nothing more than for her White master to get ahead in life with her help. One should not think that the movie concentrates only on the tribulations of the more senior female characters in the story. Rather, ample importance and screen-time is also provided to the younger women in the story, Jessie, the privileged daughter of Bea, and Peola, the half-breed daughter of Delilah who rejects her heritage because of the lot in life that it brings her. The movie shows an increased concern for the life that the mixed race child Peola has to lead in the racially divided country. As the child of a White man and a Black woman, she is considered Negro by blood and thus has no chance for a good life. This is her situation in life. Held back by the perceived color of her blood even though she is able to easily pass for a White child / woman in most cases. As Peola matures, the movie shows an increasingly conflicted woman who is truly lost and without any hope for her future. Peola despises her mother for being Black and thwarting her attempts to pass
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Name: Course: Instructor: Date: A Study of Gender and Genre as Presented in the Movie Imitation of Life The 1934 John Stahl classic movie Imitation of Life has long been considered by most in the Hollywood circle to be an excellent, if somewhat biased look at the way that the female gender was portrayed in the 1930s…
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