Mulatto Playwright Speech
Mulatto Playwright Speech
His 1935 work, Mullato: A Play from the Deep South, saw Langston Hughes ranked as one of the best-known revolutionists in the theater world. This was especially between the years 1930 and 1950. Although the play received the People and Broadway recognition in 1935, it was actually created in 1930. The play continued to be of interest and influence to the public in that year and the years that followed, especially in the African American community. Through the confrontation of racial bigotry in America, Mullato brought out the theme of revolt in order to pass certain messages to the audience. These are mostly based on the relationship between African Americans and Whites in the early 20th century. Amongst other characters, there was revolt created by the character Robert and his father Colonel. Placed as a promoter of theatre revolt, Hughes brings out the efforts of the people in laying out limited civil rights and interracial subjugation’s.
The play begins in a setting of a plantation in Georgia that features a large farmhouse. This setting does not change during the course of the play. The estate’s proprietor, who was of a White origin, Colonel Thomas Norwood, is not pleased as his daughter Sallie Lewis, born of a Black maid, Cora, has not yet left to board the train to school. He talks about these frustrations with his African American servant named Sam. Another of his interracial children with Cora named Robert has gone to town to get radio tubes instead of taking Sallie to the train station. All this is done without the Colonel’s permission. It is forbidden to use the vehicle without the Colonel’s permission. Despite this, Robert uses the vehicle as he wishes. After all, he is the son and the heir of his father’s estate. Mr. Norwood is quite irate and he even warns that he will have him flogged for his insubordination. He says that Robert should be in the plantations picking cotton.
As noted above, the first act of revolt is evident when Robert goes against his father’s wish and takes away his car without permission. In another scene, Sallie, who may pass for being white, comes down to bid farewell to his father. She is thankful to him that he agreed to send her to school. She reveals that she is taking sewing and cooking in school and aspires to be a teacher. Unfortunately, Norwood does not agree with her and resorts to taking her to live with her other sister whom he thinks does cooking. However, Sallie is determined to take typing. Her mother and brother are aware of this but they do not tell it to the Colonel. This is another evident act of revolt.
Additionally, revolt is seen when Robert argues with the woman behind the counter at the post office over the return of his money when he discovers that there were damages to the radio tubes during the process of transportation. These happenings are relayed to the Colonel by Mr. Higgins, the county politician. Mr. Higgins offers caution to Norwood with the assertion that Robert might incite other African Americans to think that they are equal to Whites. As Mr. Higgins raises these concerns to the Colonel, Robert picks up Sallie in order to take her to the train station. Robert stating his complaints to the clerk was another act of revolt, as African Americans were not allowed to argue with Whites. This led to his being thrown out of the post office by the other clerks.
William, Cora’s eldest child with Norwood, discusses with Cora about Robert’s brash behavior. They feel that this behavior will result in trouble for the Black populace who work on the farm. In their discussion, they talk about how Norwood beat Robert once when he was young since he referred to Norwood being his father in the presence of other White dignitaries who had made a visit to the farm. Billy, who is the male child of William, asks his father whether Norwood is his white grandfather. All these acts by Robert and Billy show revolt. They refer to Norwood as father and grandfather even though it is unacceptable.
Norwood is also seen to show revolt. He is termed by Mr. Higgins as not being hard enough on the Black workers on the farm. This is contrary to how most African Americans were treated at the time. He has also had sexual relations with his African American housekeeper, who bore three children by him. He has further kept them in his plantation and educated them (even though William dropped out), which is contrary to what takes place. Mr. Higgins comments about Norwood marrying a white woman so that he does not sleep with Cora are met with no remark from Norwood.
In conclusion, the theme of revolt is seen with a number of characters in the play. Robert calls Colonel Norwood papa, which was unacceptable and which earns him a beating from the Colonel. Robert also revolts by taking the Colonel’s car without permission and complaining at the post office. Norwood shows revolt by bearing children with his African American housekeeper. William fails to complete his education and Billy refers to Norwood as his white grandfather – other instances of revolt. Cora fails to tell the Colonel about Sallies typing lessons, which is contrary to Norwood’s knowledge. Both mother and daughter have thereby revolted. In their acts of revolting, the characters are introducing change to a society that needs change. Hughes uses the play to show the need for change in a time where it was greatly required.