Harlem Renaissance Themes

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Race and Passing

The issue of skin color is of critical importance in most of the novels, stories, and poetry of the Harlem Renaissance. For example, a quick examination of the titles included in Cullen's first collection of poetry, Color, indicates that he is very conscious of his race and its defining connotations in America: "To a Brown Girl" and "Black Magdalens" are two of the titles in the collection. In another one of the collection's poems, "The Shroud of Color," Cullen writes of his race and of the experience of being a second-class citizen because of his skin color:

Lord, being dark, forwilled to that despair
My color shrouds me in, I am as dirt
Beneath my brother's heel.

In addition, many of the period's authors refer to a phenomenon known as "passing"—a lightskinned black person living as a white person. In Larsen's Passing, the heroine faces...

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This section contains 823 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Harlem Renaissance Study Guide
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Literary Movements for Students
Harlem Renaissance from Literary Movements for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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