What is a powerful passage in The Vanishing Half?

A particularly powerful passage in The Vanishing Half comes when Mr. Dupont sexually abuses Stella. This passage further illustrates the point that, in this society, racial oppression is everywhere and takes many different forms.

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Stella and her twin sister, Desiree, go to work for a wealthy white family called the Duponts. The head of the house, Mr. Dupont, turns out to be a sexual abuser and a drunk. In one particularly powerful and disturbing scene, he touches Stella inappropriately while she's in the pantry.

What is most striking about this scene is Stella's complete powerlessness in the face of such abuse:

She tried to get away, but the pantry was too small and he was too strong, pressing her against the shelves.

One could argue that Dupont's abuse of Stella is a metaphor for the racial oppression that forms the basis of Southern society. Stella's inability to escape from the clutches of an abusive, lecherous employer represents in microcosm the inability of Black Americans to escape the system of white supremacy that keeps them in a permanent state of subjection.

That Stella can only find work performing menial tasks for a rich white family is bad enough. That she should then have to put up with sexual harassment from a member of that family is even worse. But Stella can't do anything about it. If she goes to the police, she'll be the one who'll get into trouble, not her wealthy, white abuser. The system, like the man who abused her, is simply much too strong for her to fight against.

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