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Shvoong Home>Entertainment>Plays>"The Dutchman" Review

"The Dutchman"

Book Review   by:bdl239     Original Author: Leroi Jones
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"The Dutchman" by Leroi Jones (he now goes by the name Amiri Baraka) is a short and surprising one-act play that stresses to bring racism and prejudice to the forefront of the audience's mind, and succeeds with perhaps flying colors. The action of the play takes place on a New York City subway between a young black man, Clay, and a flirtatious white woman, Lula. The play focuses on the racial and sexual tension between the two, catapulting back and forth from various extremes and ending in a tragedy. The two main characters send verbal barrages back and forth between them. Lulu especially criticizes Clay for being an "accomodationist" wearing the clothes and having the education of wealthy white men. Some critics see this as the voice of the Black Nationalist Baraka and his disdain for these so called accomodationists. Lulu finally manages to drive Clay into a fit of rage in which he delivers a blistering, angry monologue. Lulu has finally heard what she wanted to hear, and she promptly stabs Clay to death. The play ends as Lulu is measuring her next young black victim. The title is taken from the myth of "The Flying Dutchman", as if Lulu is doomed to sail forever.
"The Dutchman" gave birth to a new rise in African American literature, often known as the Black Arts Movement. The play seemed to open the doors for many new African American writers and playwrights, and they took full advantage of the opportunity. "The Dutchman" opened on Broadway in 1964, and surprisingly enough won an Obie award. It was later converted into a film in 1966, and with other plays cemented Baraka's place in theater and literature. After the publishing of the play Jones converted to Islam and changed his name to Amiri Baraka in order to leave behind his "slave name". His work in the 1960's became progressively more radical until Baraka left behind Black Nationalism in favor of Marxism, which would define some of his later works. The lasting impact of "The Dutchman", however, cannot be denied.
Published: July 13, 2005   
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  1. 1.

    Content of Book Review

    I believe it is "Dutchman" not "The Dutchman" (and yes, it does matter). The woman character is Lula, not Lulu. I have the play so I don't think there would be a typo in a published and printed work compared to an online source.

    1 Rating Saturday, September 15, 2012
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