Classism, Racism, And Identity Issues In Jessie Fauset's Plum Bun: A Novel Without A Moral, Comedy: American Style And There Is Confusion

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English and Languages


Master of Arts

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This study examines how race, class, and identity influenced characters of Jessie Fauset's novels Plum Bun: A Novel Without a Moral (1929), Comedy: American Style (1933) and There is Confusion (1924). The writer explores Fauset's characters' direct relation to W.E.B. Du Bois' theory of double consciousness of balancing being both black and an American. In Plum Bun, Fauset uses Angela Murray's passing for white as a misguided approach to achieve upward mobility. Her quest for identity meets with several challenges but she finally makes a decision that satisfies her need for acceptance. Fauset presents Olivia Cary in Comedy: American Style as a new trope: the unloving and uncaring mother who is more concerned with her obsession of a white identity and an upper-class lifestyle than she is with the well-being of her own family. Olivia'sactions directly affect the novel's supporting characters. In There is Confusion, Fauset uses class as a dividing line to separate the lower and middle class characters. This study demonstrates how Fauset allows this dividing line to be erased and classist mindsets can be positively changed. Fauset also includes the quest for identity and acceptance as seen incharacters Joanna Marshall, Peter Bye and Maggie Ellersley.