In August Wilson's play Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, why are various characters given unusual names and nicknames?
In Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, characters are given unusual names and nicknames in order to convey a particular personality trait or some symbolic representation. In this play, Levee and Toledo are notable examples. Toledo is self-educated and literate, proudly aware of his African heritage. His name is the same as the Spanish city where a rich Afro-Islamic culture flourished for centuries, renowned as a diverse center of learning. And Levee, as the name suggests, is a dam waiting to violently give way.