African- American literature is the body of literary works that were produced by black writers. The Harlem Renaissance which occurred in the 1920s was a significant period that saw the growth of literature from AfricanAmericans (Gates et al. 96). African American writers explored issues that existed in the society, their culture, racism, and social equality. Melvin Tolson, Robert Haydon, Margret walker, and Gwendolyn Brooks are some of the African American writers who are critical part of significant part of realism, naturalism and modernism eras.
Realism is the form of literature which provides a faithful reproduction of reality. This form of writing represents the middle-class life (Gates et al. 94). The rise of realism was influenced by the reaction against romanticism, an interest in science and the influence of social philosophy. The form of writing emphasizes reality and in comprehensive details and sometimes at the expense of a plot that has been constructed correctly (Gates et al. 94). The character in these forms of literature is the crucial part of the story or poem in comparison to the suspense and the action. Additionally, events in realism are usually plausible by avoiding exciting and dramatic elements.
Naturalism is the literal idea that provides a harsh treatment of reality and thus can be considered as extreme realism. The form of literature began as an association in the late nineteenth century in writings, film, theater, and painting. It invokes the role of family, social circumstances and surroundings in the shaping of human personality (Gates et al. 93). Writers of this form of writing base their literature on the idea that the environment influenced the actions of human beings. Despite the relationship between naturalism and realism, there are significant differences that exist. Naturalism has a philosophical pessimism where writers make use of scientific techniques to show humans as objective and impartial characters (Gates et al. 93). The method displays a deterministic view of the actions and life of a personality. Additionally, the literal method insists that the environment affects the decisions of a character and thus makes him or her act in a particular way.
Modernism refers to a form of literature that provides a reliable and intentional break with tradition. After the World War II, African Americans who served in the war came home to a society that did not consider them as equals (Gates et al. 93). The authors of this period struggled to make a place for themselves in America and employed various ways of seeking equality in all areas of life and still maintain their cultural identity. This form of literature is marked by a robust intentional break with tradition which includes reaction against the social, political and religious views that were already established in the society. Writers in this form of literature believe that the world is what we perceive it to be. The experience of the characters in this form of writing is that of loss, despair, and alienation (Gates et al. 93). Additionally, the literature focused on the individual and inner strength of the individual.
Melvin Tolson was an African-American writer who produced his works based on the modernist tradition. His work focused on the issues that the African-Americans were facing. Tolson was concerned with poetic form and was very optimistic about the future of the African-Americans both politically and economically. The optimism set him apart from others writers of his age (Gates et al. 96). Tolson’s work was significant as it addressed the struggles of the black community and painted a portrait of a diverse population both culturally and racially. The author inspired people to stand up for their rights through his work both as a poet and a teacher. He studied Harlem Renaissance which influenced his work. He brought to light historical events that were termed as insignificant
Benjamin Robert Haydon was a writer and a painter although he had a stormy career, his ambitions ruined him since he was always in debt and he eventually committed suicide. He had an extensive acquaintance among literary people (Gates et al. 94). Various celebrated individuals brighten his writings since he had a keen eye for character and gift of phrase. Haydon was an essential part of the neo-classism though the tragedy of his life overtakes his accomplishment as a writer.
Margret Walker was an African-American writer and poet. She made a significant contribution to the African American literature. Walker was part of the Chicago Black Renaissance which was an African-American literary movement (Gates et al. 97). Walker was one of the most gifted black intellectuals where she won many awards during her lifetime. Her work was very significant in championing of the rights of marginal groups. She challenged the socio-economic order by promoting a more equitable structure for disadvantaged persons. In her poetry, Walker showcased African Americans as motifs of the waged class.
Additionally, she addressed the critical issue of achieving revolution through non-violent means. Through her works, she showed that violence is not always the most effective method of making a change and instead non-violence rebellion is far more effective in effecting change in the society. In her work For My People, she effectively addresses the struggles of the black community and the use of literature to make a difference in the nation (Gates et al. 99). She was a political poet and in some of her poems such as Sorrow Home, Walker re-visions the south as a residence of liberty and exquisiteness for African Americans. She encouraged the marginalized groups in the society to advocate for their rights in the community. Walker showcased women as role models in the nation with her poems.
Gwendolyn Brooks is among the most greatly looked upon African American poets. She was an honored poet during her lifetime. Brooks was an influential poet of the 20th century and was a poetry advisor at the Library of Congress and was the first Black woman to hold the position. Her work was significant to the society by displaying a political consciousness. Brooks addresses the civil rights activism of her lifetime (Gates et al. 97). She had a strong pledge to racial individuality and fairness through her poetic techniques and thus significantly contributed to the topic.
Additionally, she had a significant contribution to the bridging the gap between the academic poets who existed during the generation of the 1940s and the fresh Black militant’s authors of the 1960s. Through her novel Maud Martha, she was able to address the issue of racial discrimination, and color prejudice where Maud the main character suffers prejudice from both the white and the light-skinned African Americans. The book was significant in addressing the issue of people’s concept of beauty in addition to the trial of being human and asserts the idea with urgency (Gates et al. 97). She raised awareness on the problems of justice and color in the society. She addressed social issues in her poem In the Mecca. Brooks was very influential through her literary works and made a significant contribution to the community and the African-American Literature.
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