Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 412
Immanu Amiri Baraka (formerly LeRoi Jones) is an African-American playwright whose writing encompasses be-bop poetry and black nationalist plays. His plays Dutchman and The Slave Ship (1966) are important examples of black nationalist writing. Wilson produced all of Baraka’s plays when he was working at the Black Horizons Theater.
Arthur Miller’s Death of A Salesman (1949) is one of the most famous plays of the twentieth century. This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama exemplifies the ‘‘well-made’’ play of the realist tradition, in which escalating tensions concentrated around the central protagonist unfold neatly scene by scene before reaching a dramatic conclusion. In this case, the central protagonist is the failed sales- and family man, Willy Loman, whose sons Biff and Happy are unable to fulfill his thwarted dreams. Wilson’s play Fences has been compared to Death of A Salesman, although Wilson has stated that he is not familiar with it.
Tennessee Williams’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955) depicts the bitter family tensions that originate in failed marriages, repressed sexuality, and the desire to control a southern plantation. The play is an excellent example of American naturalism.
Booker T. Washington’s classic autobiography Up from Slavery (1901) defined a generation. Washington was born into slavery on a Virginia plantation; freed at fifteen, he taught himself to read, then walked almost 500 miles to attend a vocational training institute. He was later selected to head the Tuskegee Insitute in Alabama. Although Washington was criticized in his own time and later for his cautious approach to race issues, at the time he was the black community’s most...
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