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The Politics of Self-Identity in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s The Sport of the Gods

The Politics of Self-Identity in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s The Sport of the Gods The Politics of Self-Identity in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s The Sport of the Gods by Bridget Harris Tsemo I do not want [black men] to imbibe the dangerous draught which has intoxicated their white brothers of this Western world and sent them raving madmen, struggling for life at the expense of their fellows in the stockmarkets and wheat-pits of our great cities. —Paul Laurence Dunbar Marlon B. Ross observes that in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s final and most acclaimed novel, The Sport of the Gods (1902), when the Ham - ilton family moves from the rural South to the urban space of New York City, the “freer atmosphere” of the city “only increases the seductiveness of moral/sexual license without effecting any concomitant political, eco - nomic, or social reform” (Ross 145). Ross suggests that the Hamiltons are heavily inu fl enced by the sexual enticement of the city and therefore unable to participate in the social task of racial uplift. To further com- plicate the situation, Ross engages Kevin Gaines’s disturbing picture of blacks already in the North, whose “movement [from the South] to the North had worsened the black elite’s already considerable sense of dislo- cation. Themselves ill-equipped to assist http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

The Politics of Self-Identity in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s The Sport of the Gods

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 41 (2) – May 21, 2009

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

The Politics of Self-Identity in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s The Sport of the Gods by Bridget Harris Tsemo I do not want [black men] to imbibe the dangerous draught which has intoxicated their white brothers of this Western world and sent them raving madmen, struggling for life at the expense of their fellows in the stockmarkets and wheat-pits of our great cities. —Paul Laurence Dunbar Marlon B. Ross observes that in Paul Laurence Dunbar’s final and most acclaimed novel, The Sport of the Gods (1902), when the Ham - ilton family moves from the rural South to the urban space of New York City, the “freer atmosphere” of the city “only increases the seductiveness of moral/sexual license without effecting any concomitant political, eco - nomic, or social reform” (Ross 145). Ross suggests that the Hamiltons are heavily inu fl enced by the sexual enticement of the city and therefore unable to participate in the social task of racial uplift. To further com- plicate the situation, Ross engages Kevin Gaines’s disturbing picture of blacks already in the North, whose “movement [from the South] to the North had worsened the black elite’s already considerable sense of dislo- cation. Themselves ill-equipped to assist

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: May 21, 2009

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