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Dutchman

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Dutchman to Paul Engle Biography

a play by Amiri Baraka (then known as LeRoi Jones), first performed in 1964 off-Broadway to immediate acclaim. Divided into two scenes, the play's setting is a New York subway carriage, ‘In the flying underbelly of the city. Steaming hot, and summer on top, outside. Underground. The subway heaped in modern myth.’ Clay, a respectable young black passenger, becomes a victim of a lynching. Lula, his white seductress, is a perverse allusion to Eve, as she gets on the train ‘eating an apple, very daintily’. The action is based almost exclusively on the exchanges between these two, as Lula goads and baits Clay into his final outburst of anger in an affirmation of black history and culture, before the play moves towards its violent climax as Lula stabs him and dumps the body, aided by the carriage passengers. Resonating with a psychosexual tension behind the racial fear, the ideas, language, and actions examine interracial relationships in a drama which embraces fast-paced dialogue, vivid imagery, skilful dramatic timing, and a compelling interaction between its protagonists.

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