Like many other African American authors, Joseph A. Walker examines issues close to the black community and, in particular, those dealing with black American men. Issues of personal identity, relationship strife, and racism play dominant roles in influencing both the thinking and the actions of the black male characters portrayed in his dramas. Lacking a homeland and history, repressed by both whites and assimilationist blacks, and dissociated from the comforts of stable male-female relationships, Walker’s black protagonists lead desperate and often destructive lives.
Walker’s critical success has derived from his realistic portrayals of African American men. Working from his own, personal experiences as a black man in the United States, Walker examines interracial relationships, conflicts between people and society, and the struggle that many blacks have in achieving inner peace and acceptance.
The Harangues is made up of two closely paired one-act plays, each introduced by an episode designed purely to serve as the media for the author’s invective. In the first episode, a fifteenth century West African man observes the presence of slave traders’ ships sitting in the nearby harbor and, foreseeing a life of slavery for his newborn son, chooses to drown him rather than have him captured by the traders.
The one-act that follows this violent episode presents the story of a young...
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