Black Fiction the African-American Experience as Seen Research Paper

Pages: 4 (977 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Junior  ·  Topic: Black Studies

Black Fiction

The African-American Experience as Seen through Twentieth Century Short Stories

The "African-American experience" is something authors and scholars of many racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds and a variety of historical and political perspectives, as well have tried to define. None of these definitions or explanations has found a real permanent or universal resonance, however -- not in the literary and scholarly communities or in the larger African-American community itself. The reason for this is quite clear, and quite straightforward: there is no single shared experience of African-Americans, but rather this overall and collective experience is a conglomeration of many different separate and distinct experiences, as uniquely and individually colored as the persons that lived them. No race, ethnicity, or culture can actually be said to have a unified experience, especially across generations and historical epochs and even within generations and time periods; it is specious to suggest that there is an "African-American experience" that is somehow cohesive.

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The multitude of different experiences, values, perspectives, and personalities that make up the "African-American experience," such as it exists, can be seen quite clearly in the literature produced by twentieth century African-Americans. Even the works of one single author can reflect a diverse array of experiences from within the larger African-American community, when that author is skilled enough to perceive and accurately render the people and situations seen in this community. This paper will examine three short stories by James Alan McPherson and one by Eugene C. Flinn, a white author that tells another side of the "African-American experience." Through these short stories, the diversity of experiences and the richness of the African-American community is clearly communicated.

TOPIC: Research Paper on Black Fiction the African-American Experience as Seen Assignment

"The Faithful" is from one of McPherson's most celebrated short story collections, 1977's Elbow Room. In this tale, a proud barber preaches his disapproval of the changes he sees in the upcoming generation, while at the same time this wave of change is shown to be largely positive and moving towards the integration desired by so many for so long. This demonstrates the way in which success for certain values, customs, and perspectives comes at the cost of other values and traditions; there is no perfect way to crate equality between different cultures and peoples, and the different experiences of the African-American community necessarily create some level of internal conflict that makes external progress difficult even if it remains inexorable. This also shows the juxtaposition of different sets of values and beliefs in the community.

Another popular story form the same collection is "A Loaf of Bread." In this story, McPherson deals with another business owner, but one very different to the barber in "The Faithful." This man owns three grocery stores, and he charges higher prices at his store in the African-American neighborhood than he does for the exact same items in white neighborhoods. He rationalizes this as best as he can for as long as he can, but ultimately he… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Black Fiction the African-American Experience as Seen."  Essaytown.com.  March 16, 2011.  Accessed July 30, 2021.
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