Multi-Ethnic Literature Term Paper

Pages: 12 (3326 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 9  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Literature


It is noted by Ferguson:

"This was the first little magazine of the depression that sought to bridge the divisions among the older aesthetes like Alain Locke and James Weldon Johnson, her own bohemian Renaissance circle, and the emerging social realists like the Chicago group led by Richard Wright" (192). In an interview, West stated, "The reason I started it was that in New York I had lived fast, and I thought I'd wasted time. I wanted to give the younger generation a chance. Somebody who was criticizing me said that in spite of my intentions everybody in the magazine was old. But my contributors were the only people I knew, and I had to get the magazine out." (Jones, 2012)

The early contributors of the magazine included West's friends and relatives. The New Challenge was a short-lived publication "Only one issue appeared, in fall 1937, before the magazine also folded. Wright's "Blueprint for Negro Writing" appears in New Challenge, sounding a proletarian protest for literature that would connect with the masses and challenge the status quo . Her foray as an editor over, West received a job as a welfare investigator in New York. Despite her bourgeois upbringing, the position gave her insight into the black working class of Harlem and the folk experience." (Jones, 2012) "

The Five Dollar Bill" is described as a bildungsroman, in which WestDownload full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Term Paper on Multi-Ethnic Literature the Focus of Assignment

"…presents the folk aesthetic through the depiction of a working-class black family, the bourgeois aesthetic in the mother and daughter's quest for wealth and social status, and the proletarian aesthetic in the criticism of social and economic inequities in America. Set in an unidentified northern city, the story reveals the tensions caused by lack of money and material possessions in a working-class family. Modeling herself after a bourgeois businessman, Judy, a little girl, sets out to earn money for the family, which she plans to give to her mother to make her happy. She sees a business opportunity advertised in the newspaper. By buying and reselling reproductions of famous paintings, she can earn enough money to purchase a motion picture projector (from the firm she gets the paintings from) and charge admission to show movies. Although Judy proves successful at selling the paintings, her mother's greed, materialism, and self-interest override her daughter's interests. She claims to have sent Judy's payments for the picture reproductions, when in reality she had given them to her bourgeois college boyfriend."

In this portrayal of the mother whose middle class concerns are placed before her child's best interests West is reported to echo "Fauset's Olivia Cary in Comedy: American Style, whose greed and materialism override the well-being of her offspring." (Jones, 2012)

When Judy is in possession of a letter sent by the company owner where she acquired the paintings stating that he did not receive payment for the reproduction she asks if she will go to jail. The loss of innocence of this child Judy has her mother centric to this experience in terms of the mother's greed. The negative portrayal of Judy's mother is West's way to exposing middle class "aspirations at the expense of others. This story is reported to be reflective of the "…futility of believing a machine or an object can lead to fulfillment." (Jones, 2012)

West's work entitled "The Penny" is focused on an African-American family struggling with survival in a city in the Northern U.S. The strategy of the bildungsroman is used in telling a story of a child who lies on his parents claiming they are abusing him to get a penny form an "a class conscious and bourgeois neighbor named Miss Haley, who dislikes the folk. Miss Haley mistakes a bruise on the boy's face -- which he acquired at the time he lost the penny given to him by his father to purchase candy as being signs of his receiving abuse. In the Penny, West is reported to picture class stratification "within the African-American community as a means of meditating on the folk and bourgeois classes.. The penny represents candy, money, and the economics of exchange, for the boy feeds his penchant for candy and Miss Halsey satisfies her stereo-typical notion of the poor as violent and abusive. The proletarian aesthetic is implied through the dire consequences of Miss Halsey's prejudice against the folk." (Jones, 2012)

III. Mora: My Own True Name

The work of Pat Mora entitled "My Own True Name" explores the meaning of being bicultural as it relates to family, rituals, food and celebrations. Explored is the experience of being neither one cultural or the other. Mora writes "For a variety of complex reasons, anthologized American Literature does not reflect the ethnic diversity of the United Sates." (The Expanding Canon, 2012) Mora states "e does not reflect the ethnic diversity of the United States," explains Mora. "I write in part because Hispanic perspectives need to be part of our literary heritage; I want to be part of the validation process." (The Expanding Canon, 2012 )

The poems in Mora's work is reported to be primary targeting adolescents. (The Expanding Canon, 2012) Included are poems that Mora feels will speak to young people and specifically young writers. In an interview, Mora states that it is her hopes that her literature "makes us all more compassionate. Mora states:

"…literature helps us cross borders and build community. I believe that. And it is when we hear many different kinds of voices that that happens. It wasn't until I was an adult who began to write that I realized that the most exciting thing to write was about being of Mexican descent and coming from the desert. So, I want them to feel that they could bring any part of themselves, their language, their sadness, whatever family they come from, and that it's going to be honored, and it's going to be treated with tremendous respect." (The Expanding Canon, 2012)

The interviewer asks Mora the question of how 'My Own True Name' evolved and Mora states that she wanted to express that the culture of all people is important and that they should feel free to express themselves from the point of that culture and not be ashamed of it. (The Expanding Canon, 2012) In Mora's work "My Own True Name: New and Selected Poems for Young Adults" Mora examines bicultural life and family from the view of an adult and relates the experiences of eating pizza and mango and examines the cultural significance of each of these.


In each of the works reviewed one can easily see that experiences of the individuals in regards to their ethnicity is affected by the prejudice and opinions of those in the world around them, but as well, how their experiences are molded by those who are close in the lives of the writer such as their mother, father, husband, or other relations. The writers reveal how their experiences are both internally and externally derived and not just from one source.

Tupac Shakar made it very clear that within him was something more and something larger than only what he was able to portray in his rap music. Tupac related that he had stood strong in the face of prejudice, poverty and other obstacles to grow and excel in the harsh city environment in his poem "A Rose Grows from Concrete." His sensitive poems related how the world around him while full of violence and hatred had been unable to stain his soul as he was still capable of 'pure love' regardless of the hate that had been projected towards him.

This study after having examined the work of Dorothy West has been informed and enlightened about the miserable way that human beings, and in this case African-American human beings have been historically pushed around by those in the higher socioeconomic classes to do their bidding, just as the little boy in 'The Penny'. The use of human beings in this manner can be likened to the use of animals in tilling the land or making their last journey to the butcher house to wind up as food on the tables of those wealthier than are they. West did an excellent job through her literary works of relating the reality of the existence of minority races in previous decades in the history of the United States.

Mora has in her works opened the door for writers of bicultural backgrounds to enter into the literary discussion and submit for the readers their own personal accounts of their experience as it relates to their own ethnicity and to do so without shame because of their differences.


Literature over the past century has failed to reflect the cultural experiences of minority ethnic races in the United States and for this, the literature that has been published is much poorer than it would have been had more space been allotted to the various ethnic races that presently reside in the United States. However, the… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Multi-Ethnic Literature" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Multi-Ethnic Literature.  (2012, December 12).  Retrieved September 21, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Multi-Ethnic Literature."  12 December 2012.  Web.  21 September 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Multi-Ethnic Literature."  December 12, 2012.  Accessed September 21, 2021.