Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Plum Bun is divided into five sections that recount the physical and psychological journeys that Angela Murray takes as she attempts to reconcile her racial identity as an African American with her personal identification as a woman. Racial discrimination and gender bias make this sort of reconciliation difficult. Angela wants to enjoy the material possessions and the social influence that money can buy. Believing that life as a black person will deny her this happiness, Angela tries to free herself from the limitations that being black forces upon her.

As a girl growing up, Angela spent Saturday afternoons with her mother, frequenting stores and restaurants where black people were not welcome. They were so light-skinned that they could “pass” for white. This apparently harmless activity gave them the opportunity to amuse themselves and see how the other half lived. One Saturday while Angela and her mother were on one of their outings, they encountered Virginia and Mr. Murray, Angela’s dark-skinned sister and father, who usually spent their Saturday afternoons together. The two couples passed each other without acknowledging the other’s presence. This public denial of familial connections repeats itself when Angela does not acknowledge her sister publicly after they move to New York.

Ironically, although she aspires to be an accomplished artist, Angela cannot comprehend the advantage of being a colored woman. She does not realize that “colour may really be a very beautiful thing.” After moving to Greenwich Village and enrolling in an art class as Angèle Mory, Angela ignores her African American blood ties and re-creates herself simply as a young woman who is developing her artistic talent. She meets people who she thinks are...

(The entire section is 723 words.)