Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Themes

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The dramatic question in the play is whether the band will complete the recording session despite conflicts among various band members and the power struggles between Rainey and Sturdyvant. The battle of wills between Rainey and Sturdyvant echoes the historical battle between capitalists and workers; only in this case, Rainey holds on to the goods (i.e., her music) that she produces until she gets what she wants from the white producer. It is only after her demands are met and she and her band members are paid that Rainey signs off on the contract. The power struggle between Levee and the other band members over whose version of "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" is recorded reflects a generational conflict defined by different attitudes towards music. Rainey and the band represent the older generation, preferring to play the song as they always have. Levee, the youngest band member, represents...

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This section contains 392 words
(approx. 1 page at 400 words per page)
Buy the Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Study Guide
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Drama for Students
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.