Divisions In society are evident everywhere in the world, even today as we may consider ourselves to be united in a multi-cultural age, there is still a strong element of segregation instigated by difference in origin, culture, tradition and race. Nichols and Taylor are black women and explore similar issues in their literature in the form of verse or prose, these having a varied effect on the reader. One distinct similarity between Nichols and Taylor is that they both convey the world from the viewpoint of black females.
The role of women in the black community is signified in Taylor’s novel A Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry. The novel is written in the first person narrative form and so we receive the thoughts and feelings of the main character, Cassie Logan, a young black girl living in 1930’s Mississippi. Taylor has purposefully chosen Cassie to be a child to provide us with a fresh perspective of how society operates. “This specific point of view changes the entire way the story comes across in that a child does not have the knowledge an adult has. ” This is a comment made by critic Lynlee Councill.
Children’s thoughts are unblemished, as they have not yet experienced the pressures of life. By selecting a child’s voice Taylor is presenting 1930’s Mississippi from an alternative point of view. Cassie, being female shows that black women can have a valid opinion in society. Cassie, her mother (“mama”), and her grandmother, together represent influential female roles. Motherhood is an eminent theme in the novel; Cassie’s mother and grandmother have a great impact upon her: “she was combing her hair, which fanned her head like an enormous black Halo.
” It is clear that Cassie truly admires her mother; Taylor has taken a prominent black trait (hair) and described it as a “halo”, portraying her as a saintly and angelic figure. In my view this coincides with her profession in the novel, a teacher, a respected member of society, who is looked upon as a source of knowledge. When teaching history Mrs Logan illustrates through the viewpoint of a black person, in somewhat graphic detail. I see Mrs Logan portrayed as a figure of justice; Taylor expresses her as an honest and reliable person.
When Mr Granger, (the local white landlord) questions her motives she says: “Because all that’s in the book isn’t true. ” For black women to use such words against a man of Mr Granger’s status is gallantry. Judging by her determination she is not only fighting for herself but also for her people. Justice is a strong and controversial theme in this novel, and Mrs Logan is one of the key characters struggling towards achieving it. The novel suggests that Mrs Logan is protecting her children from observing the misfortunes that take place against black people.
This is particularly evident when Mr Logan proposes the idea of taking Stacey along to Vicksburg with him, the first thing that Mrs Logan says is: “Now, David, no-” this is soon followed by “David, he’s just a boy. ” Here, we find out just how defensive Mrs Logan is regarding her children, she has genuine concern for them and is extremely careful about what she exposes them to. She wishes for them to stay children for as long as possible and not to be uncovered to all the pretentiousness that exists in the adult world. Mrs Logan is a prominent character.
All her motions promote integrity, she is a wise and thoughtful person and she does not discriminate against white people. Nichols also focuses on motherhood in her literature; this is particularly obvious in the poem entitled In My Name. The title of this poem suggests the concept of identity, this is evident in the use if the word “name. ” A name gives you an individual identity. The poem is centred on a pregnant woman, it is a very personal poem and this is reflected by the frequency of the usage of the words “my” and “I.
” For example when she says: “in my name, in my blood, to receive you, my curled bean” Here we can see that the child is a fragment of the mother, follows her name and holds her blood. Indirectly Nichols is referring to the fact that the child will be black, representing black heritage and consisting of black blood. This is also conveyed in the second stanza where she says: “an arc of black moon. ” Nichols is explicit here especially in her direct use of the word “black. ” The positioning of the word in the sentence is extremely effective as the word “moon” follows it, the moon is a natural object which projects light and illuminates.
By selecting this word I think Nichols is showing her affection towards her unborn child. She sees her child as a source of light within the dark, dull and prejudice world. The notion of the world being a dangerous, almost evil place is portrayed towards the end of the poem: “Let the snake slipping in deep grass be dumb before you. ” These lines are probably the most significant lines and relate to “A Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry”. The animals that she has used in this extract are those that are sly and astute, like the snake, but Nichols describes it as “dumb”, she is emphasising the purity and innocence of the child here.
She is implying that the most malicious of creatures will crumble before the child; this is a case of good verses evil. I feel that the use of the snake may have some biblical reference, as in the story of Adam and Eve, the snake is the ultimate instigator of the merciless outcome and it’s the influence of the snake that causes the apple from the tree to be eaten. It is the same state of affairs in Taylor’s novel. The way in which Taylor and Nichols convey their issues clearly contrasts.
Nichols’ views are a lot more immediate and fresh, this is particularly evident in the poem entitled “Of Course When They Ask For Poems About the Realities of Black Women. ” The first hint of feminism in this poem is where it says: “A mother – of -sufferer. ” Here, it is the word “mother” that is effective, the use of hyphens here tells us that black women are looked upon as mothers of sufferers. When Nichols is talking about suffering she is alluding to the slave trade that took place in the 1750’s, when black Africans were sold to white Europeans.