AGENDAQHQ Discussion: Hughes: "Whos Passing for Who?"Reading Queerness with Juda BennettPresentation: Essay 2: The Argument: Brainstorming with FREECASHIn-Class Writing: Essay 2 BrainstormingAuthor Lecture: Toni Morrison
“WHO‟S PASSING FOR WHO?” BY LANGSTON HUGHES• What is the story trying to imply?• Why did Caleb like hanging around white people so much?
• What made the [Iowan] couple say they were blacks passing as white people? • Are they really passing as white? • Why do you think the [Iowan] couple claimed to be passing ? • What was the couples‟ intention in changing their identity? • Was the couple purposely showing the three African American men a taste of the confusion white folks feel when they find out an African American is passing as a white folk? • It seems almost cruel what the “light-colored” folk did, but were they wrong or was there a new perspective due to passing as white then black then white again? • Did the couple gain anything from that situation other than fooling a group of people for evening and having a chance to taste what it was like to live in their shoes? Did they begin to treat [the African-American] people with more respect and decency?
• Why did knowing/thinking that the visitors from Iowa were blacks passing for whites change the mood of the night from that point on? • If the couple didn‟t tell them that they were [black] passing as white, would they still have had a great time? • Does being around your own race really change the way you behave in public? • Why did everyone start laughing once they realized that the husband and wife were passing as white people? • How does race affect the social gathering between the whites and blacks while drinking with each other at the bar?
• What was the [Iowan] couple‟s true race? • If the couple was white why would they lie and pretend to be black? • If they were black, why would they end the night by saying they were black? • Why does the white couple decide to tell the truth to the narrator and his friends finally? • Are they truly white people like they said at the end? • Is the “white” couple really white? Or are they just playing tricks on everybody by claiming they are really white in the end? • Would the story change its meaning if the couple were actually black or white?
Why did it matter whether the [blond] woman in the restaurant was black or white? Do you think after what happened, the red haired man will change his morals on protecting any helpless woman, colored or not, in the future? Should we feel a connection to someone in order to give aid to someone, or should we just do it out of the goodness of our hearts? Why did the red haired man get upset? After the woman was being hit by her husband, why did she get up and defend her husband ? What did Mr. Stubblefield [the red haired man] get out of this experience? did he learn from this? How would society in that day view the red haired man in 2 separate scenarios: He intervenes when a black man beats a white woman, and he intervenes when a black man beats his black wife. Is one “just/accepted” and the other not?
• In the story the the three black men get upset when one of the characters refrains from his previous interference with a domestic violence situation due to the discovery of the female‟s true race. Would the black men have intervened if the couple in the fight been white?• Why did the others questioned Mr. Stubblefield‟s motives, when they themselves took no action to help the woman?• Why is there a double standard and why can‟t people judge themselves more critically?• How were the [black] artists different from Mr. Stubblefield regarding how they acted toward the other people?
• What did “they had had too much fun at our expense–even if they did pay for the drinks.” mean? • Will the narrator and his friends regret what they have done? Will they change their manner when meeting white friends after this experience?• Is it acceptable to pass as something that you are not, when it is a sensitive topic (such as race), only for the purpose of fun and not for the purpose of survival or positive benefits in your life?• How important is race to human beings? • In the end, did race really matter? • If people can already pass as another color and you can have a good time with them, why does their color matter at all? • At the end, did race really matter to them [the Iowans]?• Will prejudice perpetually exist? If so, will its effect be dramatic?
If so, DO YOU READ QUEER where do you seePASSING IN THE STORY? hints of it?
BENNETT, JUDA. “MULTIPLE PASSINGS AND THE DOUBLE DEATH OF LANGSTON HUGHES.” HONOLULU: FALL 2000. VOL. 23, ISS. 4; PG. 670, 25 PGS
BENNETT‟S THESIS: WITH A SENSEOF THE INTERPLAY BETWEENVOYEUR AND OBJECT,HOMOPHOBE ANDHOMOSEXUAL, INSIDE ANDOUTSIDE, "WHOS PASSING FORWHO?" INTERWEAVES THEEXPLICIT THEME OF RACIALPASSING WITH THE BURIEDTHEME OF THE CLOSET.
Bennett writes,[Assertion] The voice of the narrator is the key todiscovering this buried, or closety, theme . Althoughcritics have been surprisingly silent about the narratorsvarious and potential passings, there are severalreasons for reading his character as false or at leastlayered. [Evidence] He admits, for example, to at leastone performance when he states that "we dropped ourprofessionally self-conscious Negro manners... andkidded freely like colored folks do when there are nowhite folks around" (173). [Explanation] AlthoughLangston Hughes is working within an African Americantradition that has often explored the nature ofperformance as it relates to racial difference andinsider/outsider communities, [Analysis] this storyfurther layers that dynamic with other marks ofdifference.
[Evidence] Before the action begins, the prolix and wittynarrator introduces his friends and himself as "too broad-minded to be bothered with questions of color."[Explanation] This statement sets up the dramatic ironythat positions the narrator for his ultimate blunder: beingfooled by the white Iowans. [Analysis] Although thenarrators bohemian world is meant to stand in contrast tothe boring white folks from Iowa, Hughes eventuallyreverses the roles. The Iowans prove to be the tricksters,and the narrator must confront his own naiveté. That thenarrator could not see through the Iowans dissimulation isfunny, ironic, interesting-but in the end, not entirelybelievable.
What happens, though, if we read the narrators bohemianworld as a homosocial world? [Assertion] When we dividethe entire cast of characters into single men andheterosexual couples, we discover that racial passing onlyoccurs within the heterosexual realm. Not only does theIowan couple pass, but so too does the only other woman,half of the only other heterosexual couple in the story.[Analysis] We might then see these racial passings asdeflecting attention from the narrator and his friends, whobecome boring and unremarkable despite the initial flairwith which they are introduced. [Logical Conclusion] Racialpassing becomes a decoy, distracting our attention fromthe performances of the bohemian bachelors.
[Assertion] Before Hughes initiates the drama of racial passing,he comes dangerously close to revealing the "perverse" natureof the narrator and his bachelor friends:[Evidence] “You see, Caleb and his white friends, too, were allbores. Or so we, who lived in Harlems literary bohemia duringthe "Negro Renaissance," thought. We literary ones consideredourselves too broad-minded to be bothered with questions ofcolor. We liked people of any race who smoked incessantly,drank liberally, wore complexion and morality as loosegarments, and made fun of anyone who didnt do likewise. Wesnubbed and high-hatted any Negro or white luckless enoughnot to understand Gertrude Stein ....” (Hughes 170)
[Concession]Although the narrator assumes this affected tone,his dandified attitude and the passing reference to GertrudeStein hardly mark him fully and definitively as a homosexual.[Assertion] Nevertheless, the title, with its bad grammar callingattention to itself, encourages speculation. Who is passing forwhom? [Explanation/Analysis] Surely the author would haveplanted more and trickier trickster figures than the Iowans tofully justify his title. Furthermore, the narrative has alreadyschooled us in the surprising fluidity of identity, and so readersare encouraged to suspect more revelations and exposures.
[Concession] To those who would argue that the subject of passinglends itself to this kind of wild and speculative reading-after all,everything is performance, and everybody passes-I heartily agree.[Final Assertion] I am finally arguing that in his autobiographies,poetry, fiction, and drama, Hughes returned to the subject of passingthroughout his career because he was fascinated with identity assomething unstable and "queer." With their emphasis oncompensation rather than loss, questions rather than answers, theunknown rather than the known, and curiosity rather thanpunishment, Hughess writings on sexual identity invite comparison tohis exploration of racial passing.
BRAINSTORMING WITH FREECASHF= Freedom, Fairness, Legality, Human Rights, Social JusticeR = Religion, Morality, EthicsE = Economics, Monetary Issues, Finances, ExpensesE = Environment (types of environments = natural, rural, urban, workplace, home, school)C = Convenience, ComfortA = Appearance, AestheticsS = Safety, SecurityH = Health, Well Being (types of health = individual, societal, mental, physical, emotional, spiritual)
PRACTICE ORGANIZING AN ESSAY ON THE ISSUE OF SCHOOL UNIFORMS. USE THE FREECASH IN THE CHART BELOW .CATEGORIES PRO/FOR CON/AGAINSTFREEDOM Students should be free to Students should be free from wear what they want stigma attached to class.RELIGION/MORALITYECONOMICSENVIRONMENTCONVENIENCEAPPEARANCE Makes the students look like clonesSAFETY Keeps students safe from gang violence due to colorsHEALTH
L I S T A L L T H E R E A S O N S T O AG R E E W I T H P I C K E N S O N O N E S I D E A N D A L L T H E R E A S O N S T O D I S AG R E E O N T H E O T H E R . T H E S I D E W I T H T H E M O S T O R B E S T R E A S O N S W I L L P R O B A B LY M A K E A B E T T E R A R G U M E N T.CATEGORIES PRO/FOR CON/AGAINSTFREEDOMRELIGION/MORALITYECONOMICSENVIRONMENTCONVENIENCEAPPEARANCESAFETYHEALTH
YOUR THESISIn this case, your working thesis will be yourposition on William Pickens’s statement andyour reasons for your belief: Do you agree withhim or not? Why or why not? You may refer toPickens or not in your thesis.
TONI MORRISON 1931- To n i M o rri s on wa s bo rn i n Lo ra i n Oh i o . Sh e i s t h e a ut h o r o f s eve n n ovels, a pl ay, a n d a wo rk o f l i te rar y c ri t i c i sm. „ „ Re c i t i t af‟ ‟ i s h e r o n l y publ i s h e d wo rk o f s h o r t fi c t i o n. Si n c e 1 9 87 s h e h a s fo c us e d m a i nly o n w ri t i n g but h a s a l s o t a ug h t c l a s ses a t Ya l e a n d P ri n c eton Un i ver sit ies . M o rri so n i s o n e o f t h e m o s t l ove d a n d re s pe c te d w ri te r s o f t h e l a te t we n t i et h c e n t ur y. Seve ra l o f h e r bo o k s h ave be e n be s t s e lle r s, a n d s h e i s t h e re c i pi e nt o f a n um be r o f pre s t i gious l i te ra r y awa rds . In 1 9 9 3 M o rri so n wa s awa rde d t h e N o be l P ri z e fo r Li te ra t ure , be c o m i ng t h e fi r s t Afri c a n Am e ri c an to w i n t h i s h o n o r.
HOMEWORK Reading Morrison: “Recitatif.” Post #10: Write a paragraph defending passing. Try to come up with at least three reasons. Write another paragraph condemning passing using another three reasons. Post #11: QHQ "Recitatif" Use evidence from our readings to support your reasons.