American Identities Final Paper

Not only does this capture the eery indifference the

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Not only does this capture the eery indifference the onlookers felt towards the lynchings, but it also portrays the beauty of the white women, seemingly radiant during these events . McKay ends his poem with a lasting image of disturbance, “And little lads, lynchers that were to be, Danced round the dreadful thing in fiendish glee”(13-14) . By this, McKay is conveying the message that children were raised to think of these lynchings as a party or celebration . With this addition to their childhood, these little boys would grow up to believe this behavior as normal and humane, symbolizing their loss of innocence . To say lynchings were horrible would be an understatement . However, these dreadful events were not only shown in a positive light, they were taught to the next generations, in hopes that it would be continued . Fortunately, these lynchings are now part of our history and we use literature to remember all the wrong that was done . With poets like Brooks, McKay, and Toomer, we are able to learn what being at these lynchings was really like . Through their imagery, literary 4
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devices, and poetic form these authors offer a clear representation of the lynchings’ sexualization, spirituality, and contrast in mood . Each representation is different, however the idea remains the same. Lynchings were certainly institutional, working off of the socially-acceptable belief that African Americans were a threat. Because of this fear, the hanging of darker-skinned individuals was seen as normal, and even arousing. Although the concept is incredibly disturbing in the present day, literary authors can better our understanding of why these events took place and what was going through the minds of white civilians. Our literary archive of lynching representations are of great importance when avoiding the repeat of history. By reading different portrayals of these sickening historic events, we gain the knowledge of what laid beneath all this hate, and how, in a twisted way, lynchings were sexual and romanticized. 5
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