Topdog/Underdog Questions and Answers
by Suzan-Lori Parks

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What is Suzan-Lori Parks saying in Topdog/Underdog by naming her characters Lincoln and Booth?

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In her play Topdog/Underdog, Suzan-Lori Parks draws many parallels between her two African-American characters Lincoln and Booth and the two historic figures they are named after. One parallel is socioeconomic.

In the play, Lincoln, as the older brother, is the provider of their two-person family. He is proud of his job as an Abraham Lincoln impersonator and of the little it can provide for himself and his brother. Meanwhile, Booth gets what he can through dishonest means such as robbing and attempting to pull con jobs. At the start of the play, Booth is trying to learn how to play three-card monte, a street con that has the potential to be lucrative. Booth wants to find enough economic means to be able to marry the girl of his dreams, Grace. However, Booth isn't making much progress in learning the con his brother is already very adept at. In the opening scene, Booth asks Lincoln to teach him the game, but Lincoln refuses , reminding his brother he had promised their...

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