Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Race relations and gender relations are central to the novel. Misty discusses the race-and-gender problem with Landey. She wants to know why Landey has hired several African American women but almost no African American men for the corporation. Landey answers, “There aren’t a lot of black men out there that we’ve found qualified to do the level of work you’re doing.” The incompetent or ethically corrupt black male plays a prominent role in the novel in the figures of Stefan Adams—an immature child in the body of a man—and Roman Frazier, an unreliable bigamist and shameless liar. If Rick Hodges is admirable, a reader is confronted with a world in which about two-thirds of black males are not to be admired.

This theme is vaguely reminiscent of the male perspective one finds in Eldridge Cleaver’s Soul on Ice (1968), in which feelings of inferiority on the part of African American men are explored in terms of the racist reality of American society. Lolita Files does not go to that depth, but one may take this racist reality as a prerequisite to understanding the characters in the novel. On the whole, the novel gives readers a frank and open glimpse at the realities of the life of young African American women in contemporary American society.