Attitude to Racism in Literature

Introduction

The society is expected to live with one another in brotherhood. Such expectations have sometimes been difficult to achieve due to racism.

Racism can be defined as the feeling of superiority and hatred held by a person towards another person who is of a different color or practices different customs from theirs. These feelings make the person who holds them see the other person as being a lesser human being and end up mistreating them as was done by many slaves’ masters.

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This essay will use the books “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair, “A Passage to India” by EM Forster and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe to analyze how literary elements have been used to explore racism while explaining how the issues contribute to the meaning of the work.

How each author contributes to racism by the “The Jungle”, “A Passage to India” and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”

Theme

Sinclair (13) reveals racism in the early 20th century by talking about the lives of the immigrants working in the meat packaging industry. During the time, most immigrants were characterized by poverty, poor living conditions, desperation and poor wages for the workers. Welfare programs did not exist and corruption was rampant with little pay for the Africans.

Forster (7) chooses to discuss racism between the Indians and the British living in India, Chandra pore. The author uses the temple, the caves and the mosque to deliver his knowledge on the tension between the British and the Indians. The gap between the Indians and the British widens as they continue to interact. The British who are colonies rule and believe they are superior. Loyalties in the story are purely based on the race. The British are rulers to the Indians and inflict suffering on them at will.

Stowe (23) is keen to reveal the wickedness in slavery that has its roots in racism. The white men trade black men as slaves. The author points out the moral authority in slavery and reveals the terrible experience slaves encounter in the hands of their masters. Chances of redemption are few and the slave can only hope for a better future. The ill morals held by the masters of the slaves as well as violence are demonstrated in the book. Religion also gives the Christian hope that they may one day be free.

Conflict

The immigrants in the United States have to struggle to survive in worse conditions, something they had not anticipated. Before immigrating, they view the US as a place with better opportunities. At the beginning, the author describes the celebrations and happiness in Ona’s wedding during a time which suffering and hopelessness exists. Most immigrants hope that life is good in the United States and that democracy is thriving (Sinclair 10).

The conflict in Forester’s book is between the British and the Indians. The British believe they are superior to the Indians and treat Indians as if their culture is inferior. The racist beliefs are held by both the Indians and the British yet they live together. There is no equality and the British are brutal to the Indians.

A British doctor is even believed to have used paper instead of antiseptic on an Indian patient. Again, Healslop becomes furious and breaks engagement to Adela, a fellow British for apologizing to the Indian after falsely accusing him of sexual assault (Forster 17).

Stowe (8) has described the hardships that slaves undergo. Despite the few chances of being free, they have to yield to their master who is of another race and has no respect for the slaves. The slaves are sold by their masters who also practice a lot of inequality in their treatment of the slaves. They are sold off and separated with their families at the will of their master.

Character

Sinclair (11) uses characters such as Jurgis and Ona who emigrate for a better life only to encounter problems in the country of destination. Jurgis is a family man who is very hard working and supports family and other friends.

Forester (9), uses Aziz, an Indian who dislikes the British, to show racism. There is a lot of tension as the Indian men are accused of being disrespectful towards the white women. Mrs. Moore, Adela, Fielding and other British characters develop racist ideas while visiting the Indians.

The character used by Stowe (4), is Tom whose life in slavery is unpleasant and unfortunate and this leads to his death. Emily, who escapes with her son Harry, has a happy ending when they finally escape and meet their father and their sister and trace their way back to Africa. Shelby, a good master tries to redeem Tom but does not succeed in doing so.

Racism

Racism is the norm and the grandmother of the family narrates how workers are beaten by the owners of the mat industry. Jurgis, by virtue of being an immigrant, is paid very little. The immigrants are bought by the natives in order to vote for them in the elections. The immigrants are viewed by the natives as their enemies.

Socialism, which is seen to be an idea pioneered by the immigrants, is an avenue for the different marginalized races to share their grievances. They note that the immigrants are left to work in the meat industry with poor working conditions.

Socialist ideas are not welcome by many as they gain few followers. They continue preaching socialism and its benefits and eventually gain members. The socialist movement manages to secure positions by overcoming corruption that existed before. Socialism is partly the battle against racism. Leaders attained positions through corrupt means and the immigrants suffered in the country where democracy was expected to thrive.

Those in official positions are mainly natives and racists. Before the immigrants gain any service from the judges, politicians and the police, they have to bribe. What is more is that gaining favor from the native race is almost impossible. It is also clear that the immigrants are illiterate and cannot compete equally.

Forster (9) has revealed racism in many ways. The Indians have been colonized by the British and have to be careful with them, yet they are both in India.

The Indians because of being skeptical turn down the invitation to a party by Turton. Turton invites them without knowing that they are racists and is disappointed when they fail to turn up. Again Adela and her mother become uncomfortable when the visitors, both Indians and British in the party fail to interact. Moreover, Fielding who is a British and Aziz an Indian collude to appear as friends yet they hold deep racist ideas.

Aziz holds that the British are advanced and use logic. The racists also believe that having an intimate relationship with the other race is overcoming racism. The British seem to dominate the Indians as they are the colonialists and holds more influential positions than the Indians.

It was believed by many living in the mid 19 century that the blacks were supposed to be slaves. Their task was hard and none had education. The masters, who were rich and owned property, used the slaves to work in their farms and treated them brutally. Beating of the slaves was common and very few masters befriended the slaves they owned.

Christianity gave the slaves hope that one day they will be free. The blacks separated with their own family when the master sold them. A slave could only be free if the master bought them from another master to be free (Stowe 4).

Setting

Sinclair (6) uses the US, particularly California and Illinois, to demonstrate racism. Immigrants come from different places among them Poland and other places. This is a period when the US claims that there is democracy yet racism is thriving. The immigrants do not have a safe working environment and do not have welfare programs. Many get ill and lose lives for lack of ability to access good health care like the natives.

The setting used by Forester (9) is the period of colonialism. The British who have joined the Indians come with a lot of tolerance and change little by little to become more racist. The British are influential and feel superior to the Indians as they believe that the white skinned have more intelligence than the Indians and also the Indians believe in spirits which is primitive.

The two races treat each other with a lot of suspicions yet they live in the same place. This tension leads the British woman to accuse the Indian falsely and is taken to court. The British are also disappointed when Adela apologizes for accusing Aziz.

Stowe (4) chose to expose slave trade. Africans were sold to Americans as slaves and belonged to the master. The book was written in the mid 19th century when slave trade was prominent. The whites owned the slaves and could even sell off the slaves’ children and separate them from their family.

Christianity was against slave trade and was not welcome by many and those who believed in it hoped that one day they would be free. It revealed the long suffering of the blacks. The black slaves suffer in the foreign country and cannot salvage themselves unless they buy their freedom. Their children remain slaves. When they escape they can be hunted and be turned back.

Style

Sinclair (3) describes the mysteries that Jurgis experiences together with his family. The author begins with the wedding and immigration of Jurgis family. Shortly after the wedding problems rooted in racism come their way and they have to struggle to survive. For lack of education and being from another race, Jurgis is not able to support the family hence others join in.

Some succumb to illnesses for lack of funds to foot hospital bills. He moves form one job to another and eventually finds socialism. He joins socialism and begins preaching which eventually leads to the victory of one of them.

The author of “A Passage to India” gives the story about the encounters of visiting India. The country is openly racist as the two races are constantly sensitive to the issue. He uses the context of the mosque, the caves and the temple to explain the events that happened. Aziz is accused of assaulting Adela, a British and is taken to court. This move conceals the tension between the races (Forester 9).

Slavery is devastating and undesirable and escape from it is impossible for the blacks in America according to Stowe. The story begins with the master Shelby, choosing to sell Tom and Harry his slaves.

Eliza escapes with her son, Harry while Tom sails to Mississippi and is bought by another trader who lives in New Orleans. Eliza and her son join the family and they are hunted and caught where they hurt the slave hunter. Tom’s master passes on and he is sold off to another master who forces him to whip other slaves.

Tom refuses and he is beaten and succumbs to the injuries. Later on, the slave hunter is assisted by the slaves to heal. Shelby’s son who comes to buy Tom’s freedom finds him gone. Harry and her family reunites and they travel back to France and later make their way to Liberia. They believe that Christianity inspires them all (Stowe 4).

Conclusion

Racism is socially constructed and is preventable. It is in most cases unpleasant for one group or both. The authors have used the themes to demonstrate racism, to advocate for equality, marginalization, colonization, moral decay and oppression to the weak. Conflicts cause the society to live like enemies and to create more pain and disintegration.

The setting is from mid 19th century and early 20th century when there emerged immigration, colonization and slave trade. The authors have also used characters that were dominant throughout by stating their life experiences and encounters. It is unfortunate that some of the characters suffer so much.

Works Cited

Forster, Morgan. A Passage to India. Florida, United States of America: Harcourt Brace & company, 1924

Sinclair, Upton. The Jungle. Chicago: Sharp Press, 2003

Stowe, Harriet. Uncle Tom’s Cabin. New York: Bantam Dell, 1981