Charles Fuller Analysis

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of American Literature)

In Charles Fuller’s plays, military justice sometimes turns out to be military injustice. Give examples.

What accounts for the reluctance of African Americans to cooperate with police in Zooman and the Sign?

What are the arguments for and against Fuller’s recommendation that African Americans imitate the speech habits of white Americans?

What is reverse racism? Trace this theme in Fuller’s plays.

Aside from his authorship of plays, what important contributions has Fuller made to the cinema and the theater?

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Charles Fuller is known primarily for his plays. He adapted his screenplay A Soldier’s Story (1984) from his drama A Soldier’s Play.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Charles Fuller is one of a growing number of African American playwrights who have entered the mainstream of American drama. Previously, plays dealing with the black experience, such as Louis Peterson’s Take a Giant Step (pr. 1954), Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun (pr., pb. 1959), and Ossie Davis’s Purlie Victorious (pr. 1961), were rueful reproaches of white intolerance. Probably because of the period during which they were written (the late 1950’s and early 1960’s), they did not seek to stir up violent passions but rather to nudge the audience’s sensibilities; as a result, they could enjoy a modest run in a commercial theater on Broadway. By the end of the 1960’s, however, the Off-Broadway theater, which was always more daring (and less expensive), encouraged plays such as Dutchman (pr., pb. 1964) by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones), Ceremonies in Dark Old Men (pr. 1965) by Lonne Elder III, and No Place to Be Somebody (pr. 1967) by Charles Gordone, the first black playwright to win a Pulitzer Prize, in 1970; these works paved the way for a more aggressive theater reflecting more militant times. As a result, when Fuller appeared on the scene, while he was able to dramatize the plight of African Americans for audiences that were more receptive than they had been in the past, he differed from his fellow playwrights in that he examined the effect of violence among black people as resulting...

(The entire section is 422 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Anadolu-Okur, Nilgun. Contemporary African American Theater: Afrocentricity in the Works of Larry Neal, Amiri Baraka, and Charles Fuller. New York: Garland, 1997. From the series Studies in African American History and Culture. Includes bibliographical references and an index.

Banham, Martin, ed. The Cambridge Guide to World Theatre. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Errol Hill, a black writer and educator, contributes an article on the history and development of African American theater, important factors in the career of Fuller. Hill also discusses the playwright’s two best-known plays in terms of their favorable reception by white critics and the more reserved attitude of black critics.

Carter, Steven R. “The Detective as Solution: Charles Fuller’s A Soldier’s Play.” Clues 12, no. 1 (Spring-Summer, 1991): 33-42.

Draper, James P., ed. Black Literature Criticism. Vol. 4. Detroit: Gale, 1992. Contains an informative article on Fuller with a biographical/critical introduction including an interview, chronology, and five excerpted critical reports by Harold Clurman, Amiri Baraka, Richard Gilman, William Demastes, and Richard Hornby. Baraka clearly states his reserved attitude toward Fuller’s depiction of black characters as white critics present more positive reactions....

(The entire section is 506 words.)