Re-membering the Clichés
Memory and Stereotypes in Baraka’s The Slave, Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play and Hansberry’s Les Blancs
These days authors who use stereotypical characters such as the African woman warrior or the old field slave smoking his pipe and humming blues songs would probably be considered as intellectually biased or mentally colonized. Yet, for some African American writers like Amiri Baraka, Charles Fuller and Lorraine Hansberry, these characters represent a link between Black people and their past or, to use Pierre Nora’s term, they are lieux de mémoire. This is why these authors oppose the more or less general attitude which consists in dismissing these clichéd-figures from the field of representation, for this would amount to erasing an entire segment of African American history. Going against the trend of the time, these playwrights thus give a voice to those silenced by normative history and, to decolonize symbols which after all belong to the past of Black people, Baraka in The Slave (1964), Fuller in A Soldier’s Play (1981) and Hansberry in Les Blancs (1966) also invest these characters with a new significance.
Published online: 24 March 2009