Representation Comparison Essay Englisj 101 Essay

904 words - 4 pages

Representation Comparison Essay
Being an African American has never been an easy task. Thinking about the
history of the African American heritage, people have endured slavery, discrimination,
segregation, Jim Crow laws, and many other factors that have tried to diminish the
value of African Americans as a whole. During the time period of of the 1930s African
American ran into many troubles when it came to jobs and finances. The two films
Imitation of Life by John Stahl and Lying Lips by Oscar Micheaux were both produced
during the 1930s and give different perspectives of “black life” and experiences that
could have occured. The two films differ dramatically in the plot and representation of
African Americans, but have similar underlying problems.
Imitation of Life was produced by John Stahl, a white man, in 1934. The plot of
this movie involves a black woman, Delilah, and her daughter, Peola, that go to live with
a white woman, Bea, and her daughter, Jessie. Stahl uses Delilah to depict the black
female as a “helping hand” or a housemaid. This visual is evident when Delilah is
portrayed as the “hero” or coming to the rescue very early in the first scene as Bea was
having difficulty juggling the tasks of being a mother. Bea allows the two African
American women to stay in her house in exchange for help cooking and cleaning around
the house. One stereotype that is present in this film is the white woman trying to profit
off the black woman. After having difficulty selling the maple syrup and noticing how
delicious Delilah’s pancakes were, Bea decides to open up a restaurant and make Delilah
the head cook. Even though Delilah is the main person invested in this business as being
the cook, the main person who profits off of the business is Bea. Within 5 years, Bea is
able to pay off all her debt to the furniture man who gave her the store. Delilah
experiences more problems then just being the helping hand to a white woman, she
experiences a lot of difficulty when it comes to being a parent as well. As Peola
matriculates through life, she decides that she will identify with her European ancestry
instead of her African ancestry. This goes along with the stereotype that it is better to be
light skin and pass off as white than it is to be considered black. There were many times
were Peola would pass as if she was white and nobody knew until her mother would
come to see her. The main two explains that are prominent in the movie was when Peola
was in school and when she was working at an whites only restaurant. In...

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