Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Infants of the Spring is Thurman’s bold attempt to invigorate the Harlem Renaissance with new vision and new energy. As a satirist, his task is to make clear what needs to change and why it is wrong. In his creation of the artists who live at Niggeratti Manor, he presents their frustrations with the limits of the movement and criticizes their own lack of talent or vision to see alternatives. He creates characters and situations that demand recognition by the movement’s leaders.

Dr. Parkes and Eustace Savoy personify what is wrong with the Harlem Renaissance. Dr. Parkes and his importance in securing patrons, publishing contracts, auditions, and exhibitions for the younger artists cannot be overlooked. He has made a career of guaranteeing to white people of affluence and influence that if they support black art, that art will not be inflammatory against them, will not disrupt the status quo, and will show that black artists can create in the genres peculiar to America’s European traditions. Those black artists who have made reputations for themselves have usually fulfilled Dr. Parkes’s expectations of them.

Eustace Savoy is one artist who would like to follow in that tradition. He abhors anything black and thinks that Negro spirituals are beneath him. Instead, he wants to be a classical singer. When Raymond and Paul criticize him, they do so knowing that they also struggle to keep from selling out.


(The entire section is 513 words.)