Short Response for “Dutchman”   Leave a comment

When I first read Baraka’s play entitled Dutchman, the first thing I emphasized was the Clay character. Clay is characterized as a young, colored person from America. The name itself symbolizes the stereotyped name of slave in America, because it reminds me about Muhammad Ali who changed his name from its former name: Cassius Clay. He doesn’t want to be named ‘Clay’ because it is “a symbol of his ancestor’s enslavement” (Wikipedia, 2012). The name and the appearance of the person are so related with enslavement in America historically. Furthermore, the age of the character Clay which still young shows the stereotype of the slave which never grow old because they never get their civil right. The civil right, however, is given by the government or private organization to let the people participate in the civil and political activities.

However, the domination of Lula in the dialog represents the domination of the white people toward the colored people. The domination which hugely appears in the Scene I is presented by the innocence of Clay when he talked with Lula. Lula claims that Clay was staring at him through the window although Clay never did that. Also, the domination is presented by the number of times Lula makes lies to Clay. For example, when Clay asks her name, she answers it with “Lena the Hyena” which is not true. Also, Lula usually mocks Clay which shows that Lula is more powerful than clay in the dialogue. She utters the mocking by mentioning that “[y]our grandfather was a slave, he didn’t go to Harvard” (Baraka, 1980, p. 1901), for example.

As a consequence of this domination, Clay who is oppressed by the mocking of Lula starts to rebel her. Suddenly after she mocks Clay, Clay performs a long monologue toward Lula to fight against her mocking and domination. However, the condition is never turned around because after the protest of Clay, he is murdered by Lula. The rebellion of Clay is failed to make his position levels with Lula’s position as the dominator.

This issue is clearly related with the oppression of the white people toward the colored people in America in the 1950-60s. The white people politically segregate their place with the colored people by the distinction of many activity places. The social activist like Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy and Malcolm X who rebel against racial segregation and racial discrimination is silenced, even more, assassinated. The Dutchman drama evidently depicts this condition by presenting Clay as the oppressed and Lula as the oppression. Also, the drama portrays the failure of the rebel to change the condition.

Works Cited

Baraka, I. A. (1980). Dutchman. In G. McMichael, Anthology of American Literature Vol. 2: Realism to the Present (p. 1901). New York: MacMillan.

Wikipedia. (2012, April 18). Muhammad Ali. Retrieved April 23, 2012, from Wikipedia:


Posted 14 September 2012 by Rizal in Essays

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