Race in Ma Rainey - Race in Ma Raineys Black Bottom There...

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Race in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom There fore, Shannon notes, the omnipresent blues in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom serves as an out let for the blues per formers who do not have complete autonomy over their mu sic. As Shannon observes, “Their strained emotions— despair mixed with moments of comic relief— surface in their songs, their conversations, and their un willingness to surrender their talents to the white power structure” (67). Aware of their exploitation, and complacent about this situation, these performers see their music as a means of gaining respect in white society, thereby permitting the exploitation of their work reader’s understanding of the play because it illustrates one of the play’s central themes — the black person’s desire to have a position in white America The set ting of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom , then, sends a message to the musicians concerning the real regulator of the music performed. Perched up stairs in the control booth, the white recording executives Irvin and Sturdyvant literally over see the sessions in the re cording studio. Through the use of the dials and switches, the musicians are essentially “puppets” Cutler, Levee, Slow Drag, and Toledo are transformed into slaves, displaying a task master atmosphere between the black musicians and the white
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This note was uploaded on 11/14/2011 for the course ENGLISH 131 taught by Professor Peggyo'brien during the Spring '08 term at UMass (Amherst).

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Race in Ma Rainey - Race in Ma Raineys Black Bottom There...

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