Dutchman Questions and Answers
by Amiri Baraka

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What do you think is the key message of Dutchman by Leroi Jones/Amiri Baraka?

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Mary Sutton eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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I support the previous educator's succinct assessment, but I'll elaborate on certain elements of the play which deal specifically with gender, as well as the play's relationship to the Black Arts Movement. Both are key in understanding the play's key message, which equates black assimilation with death. I'll begin with the latter.

In 1965, Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal developed the Black Arts Movement, which sought to develop art forms that spoke directly to the needs of Black America. This meant rejecting the canon, white authors who attempted to depict black people (e.g., Faulkner), as well as the books on which black people had been raised, such as the "Dick and Jane" series, and creating work that re-evaluated Western aesthetics in favor of centralizing the experiences of black people. It was key for black people to tell their own stories in their own ways.

Baraka wrote Dutchman in 1964, when he was still married to Hettie Jones, a white Jewish woman, and a part of the Greenwich Village...

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lprono eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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