The Imitation Of Life In Film English Literature Essay Free Essay

The Imitation of Life is one of the most powerful cinematic shows of racial passing in film history. Passing, a normally used term particularly in the African American community, “ occurs when a member of one racial class assumes the ethnicity of another ( Alkon, 2012 ) ” . The film was originally made in 1934 with a remaking in 1959. The chief character, Sarah Jane, wanted non merely to “ base on balls ” within the dominant societal group ( white ) , but to trulyA belongA to that group and bury her African American individuality that comes loaded with much bias and adversity. Despite holding the racial fluidness to base on balls, her female parent and the people who were near to her cognize her true ethnicity. Although this is a film, passing is portion of our socio-historical background. In this paper I will analyze how Sarah Jane does facework in order to successfully go through as a white adult female.

There are assorted illustrations of facework that allow her to be in character. In Imitation of Life, Sarah Jane was the girl of a black housekeeper, who wanted to go through as a white female. When trying to traverse cultural barriers, there are additions for the individual who decides to try to go through. The ultimate addition is acceptance into a dominant category in society and the ultimate cost is finally losing touch with blood relations. For illustration, there is a scene in the film when Sarah Jane begged her female parent to go forth her and to ne’er state anyone they were related. In this scene, you could see Sarah Jane softening a small spot as her female parent embraced her and promised her girl that she would go forth her alone because she was acquiring tired of being turned off from her girl. This exchange was the last clip they spoke to each other. In the procedure of go throughing as a agency of endurance, the quandary confronting those who pass, is the grade to which they internalize the dominant values of the oppressor ( Yee, 1998 ) . Both of her parents were African American, yet her outward visual aspect tantrum all the physical properties of a Caucasic individual being of lighter tegument.

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As a immature kid, Sarah was upset because she was given a “ black ” doll. She did non like this because she had internalized and embraced that she looked merely like the other white kids around her. Harmonizing to Mead, all kids in this society learn at an early age that, by and large talking, whiteness is privileged and darkness is non and therefore their picks in this respect are normally non surprising ( ISL, 2010 ) . During this scene, she was in incorrect face ; she pouted and voiced her unhappiness about the doll and their life state of affairs, and her female parent rapidly came in to assist Sarah Jane regain face by apologising, a popular disciplinary procedure. In the reading, “ My Grandmas Passing ” , XXX we were introduced to the author ‘s grandma, Mary Douglass, who was besides disquieted because her granddaughter saw herself as an Anglo American adult female, became disquieted and distanced herself from her granddaughter after she called her “ Mexican ” ( Lopez McAllister, 2011 ) . In both narratives the females involved were of darker tegument and experienced self-loathing because of societal comparings and internalized racism.

Sarah Jane ‘s female parent, Annie, was able to happen employment as a live-in amah with a fighting actress ; the relationship of the two adult females clearly defined the societal construction in their relationship. Annie was a difficult working adult female but her maestro position was black. She used emotional labour on a day-to-day footing and seldom had a wing to run to when her twenty-four hours was over. In her occupation as a amah, she had to make a batch of surface playing because it was difficult for her to happen employment and maintain her girl with her. She used disciplinary procedures to avoid aggressive interchanges with her employer and with her girl. The strain of this emotional labour made her ailment and this is what we are led to believe is the ground she dies. Throughout the film, Karl Marx ‘s struggle theory of the “ rich persons and the have nots ” is clear. The tenseness between the needing to be a female parent and being able to construct self-esteem and pride in her girl was in contrast to her ain demand of employment as the amah and taking attention of their household was rather apparent. She did non recognize that her conformity in her state of affairs made a societal quandary for her girl. A societal quandary is an separately sensible behaviour that leads to a state of affairs in which everyone is worse off ( Newman, 2011 ) .

Sarah Jane grew up life in the shadow of a rich-white lifestyle yearning to be a existent white miss, something she was able to carry through one time she had portion ways from her female parent. Harmonizing to Romero ( 1995 ) , “ Sarah Jane had to larn when she must move like the employer ‘s kid and when she must presume the appropriate behaviour as the amah ‘s vitamin E girl. She has to acknowledge all the societal cues and construe societal scenes right — when to anticipate the same rights and privileged as the employer ‘s kids and when to carry through the outlooks and duties as the amah ‘s girl ” ( p. 89 ) . The ways in which parents, household, community and society transmit assorted readings of race finally find how one identifies oneself. During the movie, Sarah Jane was challenged because she lived in fright of being “ found out. ” Sarah Jane ‘s emotion work involved a batch of deep moving to keep the function and accomplish the maestro position of a Caucasic individual that she was non ascribed. In society, race is normally visually confirmed.

As Sarah Jane grew older she invariably denied her ethnicity which led to another challenge. For African Americans, understanding the yesteryear is indispensable in analysing present twenty-four hours issues of the community. The subjects of colorism and the relationship between visible radiation and dark skinned Blacks are particularly of import because history indicates that the topic is imbued with deep uncomfortableness ( Cunningham, 1997 ) . Light tegument is valued in some minorities particularly African American. When Sarah Jane started to day of the month she thought that if she married a white adult male, her kids would come out white and no 1 would cognize the wiser. Contrary to her wants, her fellow, who was white, found out that her female parent was black. He asked her on a day of the month and viciously crush her and threw her in the trough. He felt that she tricked him because he would ne’er day of the month outside of his race. Having one bead of black blood was considered contaminating, and its presence made one wholly and perfectly black. The one bead regulation became jurisprudence during re-construction. In add-on, many Whites feared an infiltration of black blood, and anti-miscegenation Torahs were born partially out of the fright that a White individual might by chance get married a black individual ( Cunningham, 1997 ) . After this whipping she felt more resentment towards her female parent because she felt all the obstructions she was confronting were her female parent ‘s mistake.

There are besides interruptions in facework in which emotions are non managed decently. Sarah Jane ‘s position is invariably altering in response to the broad scope of societal scenes she encounters ( Romero, 1995, p. 89 ) . To avoid embarrassment because of the many awkward state of affairss she faced because of her race she decided to run off in order to keep face. She joined a chorus line in a low category dark nine and became comfy life as a white adult female. She successfully passed in her new individuality. This allowed her sense of ego to turn ; she was able to distance herself from the societal norms that were in topographic point for African Americans.

Facework allowed Sarah Jane to avoid stigmatized individuality: After she ran off, in her new environment, there was no 1 to stigmatise her as a black adult female. She made friends and found a occupation. Bing a visible radiation skinned African American was frequently a barrier to happen occupations because in the eyes of some Whites, they were a image of the result of a assorted relationship which was tabu at that clip. The mere thought of people who were black being able to go through and populate among Whites caused an on-going menace of racial obscureness for white so of course go throughing as a white adult female affected her looking glass ego, by seeing herself as she thought others saw her ( Alkon, 2012 ) .

Sarah Jane ‘s female parent was acquiring older and she was acquiring really ill. She finally cooperated with Sarah Jane in the procedure of facework by assuring her that she would ne’er admit that she was her female parent so that Sarah Jane could keep her face and maintain the character of being a white adult female. While Annie was deceasing she told her employer to state her girl that she was regretful and that she was being selfish as her female parent but she loved her because she was the lone thing she had. As I mentioned above, Annie used facework and disciplinary procedures until she died. Unfortunately at the terminal of the film Annie died. During the funeral, Sarah Jane ran down the crowded street and threw herself on the casket, this clip she was shouting and stating her female parent that she was sorry. She was utilizing a disciplinary procedure by apologising and inquiring her female parent for forgiveness. Unfortunately it was excessively late because her female parent died of a broken bosom.

In decision, Sarah Jane used facework to successfully go through as a white adult female, and allowed Sarah Jane to avoid a stigmatized individuality. She was able to make this because visually you would non cognize she was African American. Passing as a white adult female affected her individuality because she used deep moving to internalise the white race that she infiltrated. Sarah Jane ‘s passing profoundly affected her female parent because her female parent wanted her to populate as a black adult female and marry black adult male. Passing is a little piece of African-American ‘s socio-historical background and normally remains concealed like a long inhumed bone, ironically society is more tolerant and would non see it as a stigmatized behaviour. Society has come a long manner from the 30 ‘s and 50 ‘s and there is more chance out at that place to be successful irrespective the colour of your tegument.

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