Plot[ edit ] The action focuses almost exclusively on Lula, a white woman, and Clay, a black man, who both ride the subway in New York City. It is also symbolic of integrationist and assimilationist ideologies within the contemporary Civil Rights Movement. The characters engage in a long, flirtatious conversation throughout the train ride. Lula sits down next to Clay. She accuses him of staring at her buttocks.
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Analysis of Lula Lula, a beautiful white woman, enters eating an apple. An allusion to the Biblical Eve, the apple identifies Lula as a temptress and implies her understanding of her actions.
Overall, Lula is a symbol of endemic racism, since her status as a white person gives her power over Clay and makes her the sexual aggressor. Analysis of Clay Clay represents the African-American male at a cultural crossroad. No longer legally repressed, Clay still grapples with entrenched racism and self-consciousness over his identity. Clay stands as a symbol of frustrated gains, a self-possessed, educated individual who cannot escape the stereotypes and power dynamics of his racist society.
These two figures cannot escape from one another or their history, and act out established roles. Clay fascinates Lula, who derives pleasure from her power over him. She reduces him to a sexual object, and her interest in attending a party with him symbolizes the cultural tourism of white people in neighborhoods such as Harlem. When Clay does not directly accost her for sex, Lula begins to mock his appearance, speech and passivity.
This inspires a tirade from Clay, in which he characterizes black cultural segregation as an empty tactic. The mixed race Riders of Coach represent the wider public. They initially ignore the principal characters, but reveal their anxiety over racial relations when Lula and Clay become more intimate. Two additional minor characters appear at the end.
The train conductor, who dances and tips his hat to Lula, symbolizes black people who cheerfully accept their role. Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article.
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