Themes and Meanings
Trey Ellis, like Dewayne Wellington, attempts to write a new kind of fiction about African Americans. Ellis himself calls this style the “New Black Aesthetic,” an attempt to refine and revise the African American view of art. He also takes his characters into a world where mingling across class and race boundaries is nothing new. Platitudes builds on the foundation laid by earlier black writing to express a vision of a black urban life that is as comfortable with black tradition as with mainstream ideas of achievement and success.
Earle and Dorothy are urban African Americans who happily exist integrated with mainstream urban society. Although not ashamed of their race, they both pursue success as defined by mainstream values, Earle looking toward the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Dorothy toward business school and a well-paid executive position. They move effortlessly between the black world of their families and the mixed-race milieu of the private-school scene.
Another way that Ellis tries to create a new kind of black novel is by using experimental writing techniques. Ellis takes his narrative beyond the traditional realistic form and style of black fiction into a playful and eclectic postmodernism. Along with the romance of Earle and Dorothy comes the second-level encounter of authors Dewayne and Isshee, which complicates the realism of Earle’s story. In addition, Ellis uses various satirical lists...
(The entire section is 529 words.)