Cry of Black Rage in African American Literature From Frederick Douglass to Richard Wright

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This book examines the contrasting experiences of black rage that is exhibited in the writings of male and female African American authors. It boldly captures the compelling theme of the white silence and the black rage that battled each other from the early days of slavery up to the pre-Civil Rights Movement. It exposes the birth of black rage and the African American experience through such writers as Frederick Douglass and Harriet Ann Jacobs. Next, it gives a painful glimpse into the complicated experience of the biracial in the post-Reconstruction era through the eyes of Charles Chesnutt and Nella Larsen. Finally, this study concludes with an astounding view of the modern state of black rage through the controversial writings of Richard Wright and Ann Petry. Currently, many studies present a one-dimensional analysis of black rage; however, this book provides a comprehensive examination of this phenomenon. From the viewpoint of African American authors, it traces the gender differences of black rage that span one hundred years and includes valuable insights from such brilliant scholars as bell hooks, Cornel West, Barbara Christian, Martha J. Cutter, Deborah E. McDowell, and James Baldwin.


“This very fine study of black rage in literature by male and female African American writers over a century of time and prior to the civil rights movement is a major contribution.”
Prof. Maureen Honey,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

“Dr. Moore’s book will help those who experience black rage to finally understand the emotional darkness that has existed in their consciousness. There are many African Americans who are totally unaware of the rage they possess because they believed it was unsafe to admit it or express it. This book will shed more light upon the subject of rage and will equip readers to have a sound understanding of rage which will enable them to experience a greater degree of emotional and mental health.”
Prof. Jerry Taylor,
Abilene Christian University

“Moore’s book takes a fresh look at the texts by examining them through the ‘lens’ of the rage sparked by the African American writers’ experience of inhumanity as a result of slavery, the brutality of Jim Crow laws, and on-going racism and in justice even in the recent past, as experienced by the author. The second innovation he uses is that of gender, illuminating the difference gender makes in the experience the writers are representing in their work. In arriving at this fresh insight, he draws on standard literary analysis, but he also builds and substantiates his argument by drawing on recent cultural studies critics, and these critics provides additional substance to the argument of the book. In doing so they address the taboo of anger that has sometimes led readers to undervalue these works, and he also demonstrates the destructive force of rage that is continually suppressed. By bringing anger out of the shadows, Moore provides fresh insight, and shows the civic importance of rage in the American experience and its source in injustice and inhumanity.”
Prof. Joy S. Ritchie,
> University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Table of Contents

Foreword by Maureen Honey
“Get Over It”
Chapter 1:
Examining a Century of Silence and Rage in African American Literature, 1865-1946
Literature Review
The Duality of Frederick Douglass and Harriet Ann Jacobs
The Biracial Worlds of Charles Chesnutt and Nella Larsen
Richard Wright’s Explosive Rage
Chapter 2:
Silent Trees: Personal Reflections on Silence and Rage
The Silence
Silence and Rage
Blackness: Silence and Identity
Words from bell hooks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X
Chapter 3:
Witnessing the Birth of Black Rage in Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave(1845) and Harriet Ann Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl(1861)
The Enduring Pain of Slavery
The Autobiographical Rage of Frederick Douglass
Impotent Rage
Black Female Rage in Jacob’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
The Slave Girl and the Sexual Predator
The Female Slave’s Alternative Retribution
Lasting Blow: The Lingering Influences of Slavery
Chapter 4:
The Phenomenon of Biracial Rage in Charles Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars(1900) and Nella Larsen’s Quicksand(1928) and Passing(1929)
The Biracial Identity
The White Mask in The House Behind Cedars Chesnutt’s Biracial Female
Black Female Rage in Nella Larsen’s Quicksand A Place to Belong: Location and Helga’s Biracial Identity
The Biracial Female in Passing Differed Rage
Chapter 5:
Exploring the Explosive Urban Rage in Richard Wright’s Native Son(1940) and Ann Petry’s The Street(1946)
Brutal Clarity
“Like a Red-Hot Iron”: Bigger Thomas’s Burning Rage
The White Cat and the Black Rat
Native Son’s Perpetuating Rage
The Furious Hell of Ann Petry’s The Street
The White Heaven: Petry’s Contrasting Spaces
The White Ideal and the Black Other
Blackness and Claustrophobic Spaces
Explosive Black Female Rage

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