Themes and Meanings
Captain Blackman is, arguably, the most complex of Williams’s novels. The interweaving of dreams and reality and of history and future creates a surrealistic world that reaches mythic proportions. By using war as his backdrop, Williams explores not only the writing and rewriting of history but also the human condition.
The use of allegorical figures further develops the themes of racial injustice and rampant inhumanity. The conflicts through history of the “black man” (Blackman) and “white man” (Whittman) are fought in each era. Successively, the African American characters become more powerful, enabling them to battle the racism of the white imperialists. United, the new Abraham and his touch-me-not consort engineer the black revolution.
The novel, however, is more than a work of fiction. Williams provides six historical glosses on the six title pages that separate the major parts of the novel. These glosses are actual historical documents that center on the plight of the African American soldier. Part 1 opens with a quotation from a forgotten African American soldier imploring that he not be discarded without notice. Part 2 begins with a quotation from W. E. B. Du Bois commenting on the role of the African American soldier in the emancipation process. The quotation by Captain Arthur Little of the 369th Infantry Regiment in part 3 outlines the patience and fortitude black soldiers exhibited after being ridiculed by their...
(The entire section is 521 words.)