Race and Racism in Literature

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Issues of race and racism permeate American society and are of central concern to students and teachers. The chapters in this reference explore how these issues have been addressed in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Native Son, The House on Mango Street, Ceremony, and other major novels widely read by high school students. The works discussed reflect racial issues from a range of cultural perspectives. Each chapter is devoted to a particular novel and provides a plot summary, an overview of the work's historical background, a literary analysis, and suggestions for further reading.

Issues of race and racism have long permeated American society and continue to be among the most important social concerns today. This volume explores how racial issues have been treated in a dozen major novels widely read by high school students and undergraduates. The works discussed are from different historical periods and reflect a range of cultural perspectives, including African American, Latino, Native American, Asian American, Italian American, Jewish American, and Jewish-Arab experiences.

The volume begins with an introductory essay on race and racism in literature. Each of the chapters that follow examines a particular novel, including:

; The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

; Native Son

; The House on Mango Street

; Ceremony

; The Chosen

; And others.

Each chapter includes a plot summary, an overview of the work's historical background, a discussion of overt and subtle racism in the novel, and suggestions for further reading.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[E]xamining major writings which have addressed race issues, from Native Son and The Chosen to House on Mango Street. The focus on selected novels allows for not just plot summaries and critical commentary, but for a review of the book's history and analysis of how racism is portrayed….Recommended."


MBR Bookwatch

"Worthwhile additions for schools with an integrated curriculum."


School Library Journal

"[T]his collection of essays addresses issues of race and racism in a dozen novels of diverse perspectives. Wilson introduces the volume by distinguishing between overt and institutional racism. Discussions of novels from Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to Nora Okja Keller's Fox Girl include a plot synopsis, historical background, and literary analysis."


Reference & Research Book News

School Library Journal
This series promotes a multidisciplinary and multicultural approach to teaching literature across the curriculum. Each title includes a chronology of events related to the literature and the social issues(s), an introduction, discussions about the works with plot synopses, literary analyses, historical context, further-reading suggestions, lists of topics for written and oral discussion, and recommended movies and Web sites. Bioethics examines such works as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Rappaccini's Daughter," Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, Albert Camus' The Plague, and Margaret Edson's Wit. Race delves into Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Richard Wright's Native Son, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, Sandra Cisneros's The House on Mango Street, Leslie Marmon Silko's Ceremony, Chaim Potok's The Chosen, and more. Worthwhile additions for schools with an integrated curriculum.-Pat Bender, The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, PA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

CHARLES E. WILSON JR. is University Professor and Professor of English at Old Dominion University. His previous publications include Walter Mosley: A Critical Companion (2003) and Gloria Naylor: A Critical Companion (2001), both available from Greenwood Press.

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Table of Contents

1 Mark Twain, The adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) 1
2 Richard Wright, Native son (1940) 13
3 Harper Lee, To kill a Mockingbird (1960) 25
4 Jose Antonio Villarreal, Pocho (1959) 37
5 Sandra Cisneros, The house on Mango Street (1984) 49
6 Margaret Craven, I heard the owl call my name (1973) 61
7 Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony (1977) 73
8 Arlene J. Chai, The last time I saw Mother (1995) 87
9 Nora Okja Keller, Fox girl (2002) 99
10 Rita Ciresi, Sometimes I dream in Italian (2000) 111
11 Chaim Potok, The chosen (1967) 123
12 Amy Wilentz, Martyrs' crossing (2001) 135
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