William steward was a black Journalist who coupled as an author. His works include The Gem of the Alley. He wrote an era when racism and oppression of the black people was the order of the day.
Mrs. Mossell authored The work of the Afro American Woman. She wrote under the initials of her husband n f Mossel and as a Christian family woman, her love for true womanhood heels her articulate her viewpoint on black feminism through her works. Gertrude Bustill Mossell was born in 1855 and passed on in 1948
Social, political and cultural realm
The two books are set in era when the society did not value black authors, especially black women. In addition, the patriarchal natures of the community in which they are set denied the girl an opportunity to voice their opinions and stand to be heard. The political wind at that time was racist and inclined towards oppressing the minority race in the community and this called for many literature authors like Mrs. Mossell to admonish the societal waywardness.
- What are some of the qualities in Steward and Mossell that, as a literature student, you admire and why?
- How can you describe the society in which the books are set?
Nannie in William Steward's work becomes fond of Uncle Richard and Auntie Lititia for she begins calling them auntie. The relationship encompassing the entire household promotes the theme of love. Mossell's love for fellow women drives her into authoring this book that fights for their space in an era where women did not matter much.
The books look at the extent that women folk have taken in the era in which it was published and creates an insight into the future of women literature, or literature crafted by women. The author supports the girl child, entirely and shows the breakthrough that women have not only in literature but in the society too.
Mrs Mossel in the work of an Afro-American woman identifies the prevailing issue in her society, racism and the position of an African American woman in the racist environment. She goes forth to say that when the voice of the black woman is restored, that is when the fullness of her darkened eye will glimmer and shine. She places her works in light of early black literature with a feminine touch.
Themes and text understanding
The discussed themes that are racial profiling, love and feminism are critical given the period in which the books were set. In this era, black people faced significant oppression and segregation. They were voiceless and this called for a savior to make their voices be heard. Through the themes, the reader gets to understand the family relations in that society and the growth of unity and togetherness despite social backgrounds, race or status. They address interpretive problems and clear a path to voicing the opinion of the minority.
Passages revealing the significance of the themes
A Tale of Life in Philadelphia - Lizzie Allen after coming to town to work service hires a room with total strangers of a vicious and lowest class in the society. However, love grows among them and they live happily.
The Work of the Afro-American Woman - The author reveals that black people have the potential to make a change in the society, hence no need for racism.
William Steward's John Blye- it highlights the African American significance in the literature world.
Two questions for the class
- According to Mossell, what is the role that a black woman can play in literature and what is its future?
- How have the authors changed the societal view of black people?
Gardner, E. (2011). William Steward's" John Blye". African American Review, 44(3), 337-352.
Mossell, N. F. Gertrude Bustill Mossell. The Work of the Afro-American Woman.
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