We see in August WilsonÆs Joe TurnerÆs Come and Gone that for many African Americans living in a dominant and oppressive White culture, the search for self-affirmation is crucial to self-actualization. The African American must struggle with two identities, one that is African and one that is African American and often undermined in a racist and oppressive White society. We see this struggle that creates a double-consciousness in African Americans most clearly in WilsonÆs characterization of Herald Loomis, an African American male who cannot become whole until he reconnects with his African self.
The double-consciousness and dualism of identity African Americans are confronted with when living as a minority in a dominant and racist White society is clearly exhibited in WilsonÆs characterization of Loomis. Loomis is bitter and resentful over the oppression experienced by African Americans at the hands of Whites. This makes him reject his American self because it is a self that must acquiesce to Whites. We see this rejection and bitterness when Loomis maintains, ôGreat big old white manàyour Mr. Jesus Christ. Standing there with a whip in one hand and tote board in another, and them niggers swimming in a sea of cotton. And he counting. He tallying up the cottonö (Wilson 92).
Loomis maintains he has seen things he has no words to describe, primarily abuses against African Americans. He cannot reconcile his past experiences with oppression and his here-and-now existence. He cannot forge a whole identity that is African and American because of his resentment and bitterness over the past. However, Keller (471) maintains that Loomis will only become whole by transcending the past and coming to terms with the dual-consciousness it engenders, ôit is only through the acceptance of their dual cultural heritage that the characters are able to recover from the degradations of their past and experience renewal.ö
We see t...