What does the title In the Blood mean?

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The title In the Blood refers to the violence and corruption of Hester's relationships with her illegitimate children and with the fathers of those children, men who refuse to acknowledge their own blood relations.

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In the Blood is based on Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter and originally had a title more directly related to the novel. Parks later used the original title for another play which alludes to Hawthorne's work. In the Blood was, therefore, a title which was applied to the play after the first draft was written. This does not mean, however, that the title was a afterthought. On the contrary, In the Blood is a title which more closely follows the issue in Parks's play by abandoning the direct link with Hawthorne.

Prominent among the many meanings of "blood" are "family" and "essential nature." These are linked by the concept of genealogy. In the play, Hester has five illegitimate children, who all have different genetic heritages but the same lack of pedigree, since they are not acknowledged by their fathers. Hester's own blood, which they share, is regarded as tainted, both by society and by the children themselves.

Hester ends up shedding blood when her own son, Jabber, uses the same label—"slut"—to describe her that the rest of society uses. This society that condemns her includes the hypocritical men who have fathered her children but will not acknowledge their own blood. Violence is therefore passed down through these corrupted bloodlines, along with disgrace.

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What does the title In the Blood mean?  

Many times, one hears another person say “It’s in her blood” or “It’s just in his blood” in reference to a positive or negative character trait, habit, predisposition, or behavior of said person. These types of statements can refer to a repeated cycle that occurs in one’s life, as well. Examples of this statement might be a child of an addict who becomes dependent upon illegal substances or a child of a professional athlete who grows up to play the same sport as well as their parent. Likewise, one might hear this phrase, “It’s in the blood” when a person is talking about the offspring of a champion race horse prodigy who is also a winner.

In the case of Suzan-Lori Parks's play In the Blood, the main character, Hester, seems incapable of escaping a pattern of poverty and promiscuity in her difficult life. She somewhat resigns herself to the belief that her depressing destiny is “In the Blood,” or that it was bound to continue. Loosely representative of The Scarlet Letter, Parks's play also finds Hester the center of criticism and judgment, as each of her five children has a different father. She is also branded by the illegitimate children she has borne. She longs for stability for her children and herself, but she continues a cycle of adulterous relationships which do not provide any lasting aid or relief for her family. Hester continues to make bad decisions, ultimately leading to the death of one of her sons.

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