Any figure that can negatively or positively affect a child’s outlook on life should choose their words wisely when addressing them. A child doesn’t need a dumbed down version of the truth or to be treated naively. Addressing any topic with a good explanation is the personal responsibility of any adult to a child. It’s evident that in the story “Gorilla, My Love” Hunca Bubba wasn’t just a name to Hazel, it was an entire personality. To know that her uncle’s real name is entirely different is like pulling the disguise off someone. Hazel’s entire dynamic has shifted with her Uncle. Had the adults kept this act up around Hazel perhaps they could have gifted her with ignorance but at least she wouldn’t have had such a misunderstanding when finding out her uncles’ real name. Another great example is when she is lied to about which movie they are going to end up watching. She expected to see Gorilla, My Love but they ended up showing a religious film named King of Kings. In this sort of example the children in the theater are naturally upset because they were lied to. If the adults could explain why they were showing the film instead of just trying to pull a wool over their heads perhaps the children wouldn’t cause a fuss and come to terms with the truth rather than a lie. This brings me back to my childhood when my parents would always say one thing and end up doing another. I remember vividly asking my parents “But why?” and they would always reply with “Because I said so.” It was extremely frustrating having no real honest answer and constantly filling the blanks in my own head. In “Gorilla, My Love” Hazel stood her ground and fought back lighting the candy stand on fire after the manager refused to give back a refund. These stories are a strong reminder that keeping the youth in blissful ignorance is a disservice to them and society. They are kept in the dark for so long that they eventually grow old and learn the truth and are exposed to an identity crisis that everything they know is a lie. The Youth deserve the truth.
In the story “The Thirteenth Night” by Ichiyo Higuchi, Oseki is so unhappy with her upper-class husband, Harada, and is so happy to encounter her childhood friend Roku, who she always thought she would marry. Oseki and Roku both grew up in humble circumstances, and Oseki thought she would spend her life working behind the counter of Oseki’s family store. She was happy with that. But then Harada saw her and wanted her for his wife, but he mistreats her because of her lower-class origins. When Oseki and Roku meet in the rickshaw, Oseki has risen in social class, and Roku has fallen in social class, abandoning his wife and child. They are very different in their social class, but similar in their desire to abandon their families. They still have feelings for each other. Marxist theory might say that capitalism takes advantage of all workers, whether a rickshaw driver such as Roku or a wife like Oseki. They will never move beyond their humble class and they will never stop being exploited.
Oseki might represent Higuchi Ichiyo in some ways. The author grew up in the late 19th century. She was born to parents who were in a peasant community, but her father had managed to procure samurai status. He only had this status for a short time, though, before it was abolished. Higuchi attended a private school with students mostly from the upper classes and felt inferior. She kept diaries all about all aspects of her life, including the increasing poverty of her family as the years went on. In later years, she moved with her mother and sister to a neighborhood near Tokyo’s red-light district. She would have been very aware of the limited power of women, and of the need to use traditional feminine wiles to get her way—go home and make her husband happy, as her father told her, and be able to keep her son. Her husband chose her for her beauty, and she should play that up. Roku, too, is impressed by her beauty.
Alice Dunbar-Nelson’s play “Mine Eyes Have Never Seen” exemplifies corruption under the guise of “upliftment.” I believe that Nelson’s play was written to depict horrible and heartbreaking situations that end in grief and heartache. However, that grief and heartache is camouflaged by patriotism that the characters in the play do not owe to anyone. “Mine Eyes Have Seen” tells the story of a family torn apart by racism and corruption. What once was a complete and loving family consisting of father, mother, and 3 siblings, has become instead 3 siblings fighting to survive in a society that has failed them. Their father was a successful black man that was lynched, and their mother died soon after due to a mix of pneumonia and heartbreak. Chris, their son, soon learns that he has been drafted to the U.S. Army, and feels no obligation to serve a country that has failed him and his family. However, after speaking to his neighbor, he is convinced that his purpose is to serve with honor. The family has felt enough heartbreak and pain and now must endow themselves to more in order to save face in a society that does not care about them. What some people might consider “empowerment” at the end really only made me feel grief and sadness. I believe Nelson’s purpose was to show the two faces a play can portray. While some may feel proud of the character’s sacrifice and duty, other’s feel hopeless. A brother, who cares for his family after everything they’ve been through, must now succumb to more heartbreak and pain.
I believe Nelson’s play fits both under “corrupting” and “uplifting” in interchangeable ways. “Corrupting” in the sense that we see just how mournful life can be. “Uplifting” is the facade that Nelson played upon at the end of her play.