The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)


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Helga Crane of Nella Larsen's Quicksand is, in my estimation, an analogous character in terms of a polarizing heroine. Nov 10, Tony rated it really liked it Shelves: Although they admired lighter-skinned blacks, ones who were truly a deep black were shunned and ignored. The heroine of this novel is a woman named Emma Lou. She was raised in Boise by her family who had managed to become mildly successful and achieve a middle-class status. Emma Lou is first presented at her high school graduation, receiving her diploma. She was the only black person in her class, and was musing over her achievement and what it all meant to her.

She was essentially a lonely person; nobody in her class had made any effort to become friends with her. When she got there, she did see some other Negro girls, but only one of them was black like her. Unfortunately, this girl was a Southern Negro and displayed all of the crass behavior of an ignorant southerner — loud voice and poor grammer. She soon tired of this friend, even though the friend had lots of money and managed to introduce her to some other black girls on campus.

Emma Lou continued to dwell mentally on her blackness, and saw it as the reason for her lack of friends and exclusion from the only black sorority on campus. Not knowing any better, she immediately falls in love with him and pursues him — much to her detriment. This is a depressing novel of growing up black-black and the harsh treatment dark-colored blacks receive from their peers — whether actual or not. I was really surprised about the negative approach taken by the author in this novel. It was certainly strong, with no apparent hope in sight, either for Emma Lou or for the man she ultimately pursues and captures.

The Blacker the Berry by Wallace Thurman

I've taken ill, so my reviewing faculties are a bit dulled This is the last book in the first volume of the 'Library of America's Harlem Renaissance Novels of the 's'. All of the stories contained have some sort of take on black-on-black racism, though none makes this issue its central theme as Thurman does in 'The Blacker The Berry'. This in turn informs the way she looks upon herself—like her oppressors she prefers the company of men with lighter skin, and detests crudity of behavior, which she ironically and erroneously associates with darker skin.

Though Emma Lou is surely an improvement on the surly negative two dimensional character of Helga Crane. She's a woman with a desire for intelligent company—though she may be her own worst enemy sometimes, I don't believe she ever asks for much! Emma Lou is a woman who is intimate with her simple wants, but is denied time after time despite good intentions. Helga was more of a wanderer, and I tend to have little sympathy with that type of character Later in his short career, Thurman writes a satire on the figures of the Harlem Renaissance, 'Infants of the Spring'.

Though I haven't yet read it, I'm guessing that the reader gets a glimpse into this in the chapter 'Rent Party', where the reader delights in Emma Lou's offended conservatism. It is certainly the most vibrant chapter. I for one was hoping for a little more of what I found in 'Rent Party' On the subject of satire, this is a very, very sad novel. Yet there's definitely a dry sense of humor to it. Negotiating between the two can be great fun. Still, besides 'Rent Party' and the incredibly dark final chapter, 'Pyrrhic Victory', the writing is very point-A-to-point-B.

Thurman's brilliant moments, however, are enough to make me interested in the rest of his regrettably short oeuvre. Sep 09, Tracy rated it it was amazing. The protagonist was not a likable character.

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She hated how her family discriminated against dark skinned Blacks, yet she did the exact same thing. She was simple and ignorant and thoroughly pissed me off, yet as she grew and and faced her existence without excuse they don't like me because of my dark skin versus they don't like me because I'm obnoxious she became more endurable and maybe, just maybe, someone I would care no know with further exposure. Comment leur en vouloir?? Tout cela remonte effectivement au temps de l'esclavage.

Emma Lou has it hard in a family of mixed kin. The story is all about self acceptance and Emma Lou has hella trails and tribulations ahead in her life. Jan 09, Leigh J. It's pretty tough to get through because the POV is the girl who hates her own skin, but it's an interesting look in shadeism. The intro in my copy I read it when I was halfway through the book was very misguided and no actual fact that were correct, sources, or any truths to the origins of shadeism were included.

She also excuses colonialism from blame which is entirely incorrect. Thurman's writing style is mostly pleasing, but there are some parts in the book that begged me to abandon it and It's pretty tough to get through because the POV is the girl who hates her own skin, but it's an interesting look in shadeism. Thurman's writing style is mostly pleasing, but there are some parts in the book that begged me to abandon it and pick up something else.

The way some events in Emma's life were fleshed out fully with pages describing poetically how she was feeling, and others equally important were given a page maybe and rushed through, confused me at times. Too much time and energy was devoted to trying to poetically explain what was happening in Emma's mind without anything seamless in going how the story seemed to be intended to go. Apr 19, Justin rated it liked it.


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This is such a sad story. It was well written and touches on the sensetive subject of racial prejudice within the black community. The main character, Emma, is naive and insecure not solely do to societies views of dark skin, but mainly due to how she was raised and treated by members of her own family, who were of lighter complexion.

Seeing an oppertunity to escape thier oppressive views she takes off to first L. Instead of finding the color-blind mecca she expected she com This is such a sad story. Instead of finding the color-blind mecca she expected she comes face to face with a difficult reality that is both enviromental and of her own making.

Alothough I enjoyed this book and the journey Emma embarks on to find her place in the world, the ending seemed flat and unfinished. It almost seems that there should be another book that picks up where this one leaves off. All in all a good read. An informative and insightful look into black america of the 's. Dec 30, Sharon rated it liked it Shelves: This book is classic black America, written in -- well-written for its time and subject.

Emma Lou was educated and had lived in Idaho. Her problem was her skin color, not just black but dark. It mattered then and I suspect it still matters today. The book is still timely because of the unexplainable prejudices people have against each other for preposterous reasons. Emma Lou tried to escape the pettiness of her small town at college and in big cities but her color mattered everywhere. This This book is classic black America, written in -- well-written for its time and subject.

This is also a lesson to parents and others -- how a child perceives herself is shaped a good deal by how the child has been treated at home and by all she comes into contact with. Jul 02, Ang Bennett rated it liked it Shelves: It is a book that is very frustrating to read, because of the main character's [Emma Lou] outlook on everything in her life. She knows that other blacks discriminate against her, because of her shade, yet, she does the exact thing to her people, just not on the basis of the tone of their "blackness".

The Blacker the Berry will always be an important historical fixtur It is a book that is very frustrating to read, because of the main character's [Emma Lou] outlook on everything in her life. The Blacker the Berry will always be an important historical fixture, because of Wallace Thurman's boldness in freely writing about the colorism that exists within the African American community.

Nov 30, Joe rated it liked it. I'm only on page 50 of this novel and it's already struck a nerve with me. As a black gay man I can totally relate to the alienation Emma Lou experiences first hand from her own community. She because of her exceptionally dark skin this internal racism still exist today within the black community and myself because of my openness with my sexuality a homosexual black man is considered the scourge of the black community.

For a novel written in it is amazingly relevant in today's society as I'm only on page 50 of this novel and it's already struck a nerve with me. For a novel written in it is amazingly relevant in today's society as well. A must read for any black person who is struggling to find their place in the black community. Jan 03, Cindy rated it it was amazing Shelves: This book is, by far, one of my favorite reads.

For me, it displays for the reader an uninhibited view of the duplicity of the Negro state of mind, how it affected the Negro family, and how it weakened the Negro community. It gives a deeper, more poignant interpretation of the color divide among one race of people and a foreboding insight into the issues faced by the 21st centu This book is, by far, one of my favorite reads. It gives a deeper, more poignant interpretation of the color divide among one race of people and a foreboding insight into the issues faced by the 21st century African-American.

As is often the case with books from the Harlem Renaissance, many of the points they held up for criticism still ring too true today nearly years later. Truly one of the best books I've ever read. The author died much too soon. A fantastic lost classic of the Harlem Renaissance -- highly recommended! Sep 01, Bridget rated it it was amazing Shelves: Why you may ask?

Well, because even during the 's when this book took place, the hatred for yourself because of your skin tone, especially if you were a dark skin woman or man, was just frustrating And to see that same mess happening in The fact that people still harp on that light skin dark skin bull shit grates on me. I mean, come on When the hell are we going to get the hell over it?!?!

Dover Books on Literature and Drama: The Blacker the Berry by Wallace Thurman (2008, Paperback)

Yes, we as people have our preferences, that's fine, but to down someone because they're "too dark" and praise for someone who is "high yella" or brown skin?!?! When will this damn mentality leave? When will parents stop teaching their kids that its a bad thing to be dark? Or that being High Yella is a good thing? Or that high yella women are stuck up and all about themselves? Not all of us, regardless of skin tone are the same! I, as a "high yella" woman was and still can be very self conscious of my skin tone because people always made a big deal out of it..

But I don't want you making me feel less than either because Im light and you are attracted to darker tone women.

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Just like I do my best to not make anyone else feel less than because I dont see the big damn deal and "high yella" men and women. Yes, I have my preferences when it comes to dating men, but my preferences are so far stretched that it can't really be a big deal. In a nut shell, as wonderful as this book is, it helped to fuel how pissed off I get with the stupid skin tone bull shit! Let that shit go! I see beauty in all shades And I personally do find darker skin tones beautiful Forget what society teaches you and learn to accept and love you for who the hell you are From the lightest to the darkest!

We need to figure out how to let that mess go and move the hell forward! Stop with the Dumb Shit! Now, what I can say is, I am glad to see Emma Lou's growth by the end of this book and willing to start working on loving who she is and accepting her skin tone. And finally just letting go and just start allowing things to take its course in life I am proud she got her back bone when it came to handling some things by the end of the book I love this book so very dearly!

This tells the story of Emma Lou and her struggles with being a dark skinned woman. Her skin is very black, making her an outsider to her own family members, who are light or brown skinned. From family members to strangers and even lovers there is a resentment held towards her because of this. The author does mention in the book that Emma is a snob.

Alva is mulatto and Filipino, being described as having warm, yellow skin.

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Alva takes a liking to Emma, she listens to him and he shows his affection to her in public amongst disapproving stares. But even though this sounds all well and good, he still has pity for her. After all this Emma still remains in love with Alva, but is it enough to stick around and watch his own downfall?

This is such a fucking sad story! This book impacted me heavily but I doubt it would do the same for others. I love me a sad book and this is a top 5. Jul 14, Suzanne rated it it was ok Shelves: Written in , The Blacker the Berry was a shocking novel in that it exposed, for the first time, the existence of racism with the black community. The main character, Emma Lou Brown, is a dark-skinned woman who struggles to find acceptance in a black community that prizes lighter colored skin tones.

Leaving her home town in Idaho, Emma admits that she was the only black student in her high school. She hopes that her new collegiate life in Los Angeles will help her to find new friends, but ins Written in , The Blacker the Berry was a shocking novel in that it exposed, for the first time, the existence of racism with the black community. She hopes that her new collegiate life in Los Angeles will help her to find new friends, but instead she is shunned by fellow black students because of her very dark color.

The only job available to her is that of a maid, even though she has a college education and is able to do secretarial work. Apparently lighter skinned girls are preferred for those positions. She finds the same thing happens with finding a place a live and even in her personal relationships.

But again, Emma Lou also perpetuates the discriminatory attitudes with biases of her own. Books will be free of page markings. Emma Lou Morgan lives in a world of scorn and shame, not because her skin is black, but because it's "too" black. No one among her family, teachers, and friends has a word of consolation or hope for the despised and rejected girl. With nothing to lose, eighteen-year-old Emma Lou leaves her home in Idaho, seeking love and acceptance on a journey that ultimately leads her to the legendary community of the Harlem Renaissance.

A source of controversy upon its publication, "The Blacker the Berry" was the first novel to openly address color prejudice among black Americans. Author Wallace Thurman, an active member of the Harlem Renaissance, vividly recaptures the era's mood and spirit. His portrait of a young woman adrift in the city forms an enduringly relevant reflection of the search for racial, sexual, and cultural identity.

The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)
The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)
The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)
The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)
The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)
The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)
The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)
The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama) The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)
The Blacker the Berry (Dover Books on Literature & Drama)

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