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American Black Nationalism

The Martin R. Delany is known as the father of American black Nationalism and his novel “Blake or the huts of America” is actually his only literature work. Besides he wrote articles on the social position of African Americans in the USA, and the parts of “Blake” were also published in the newspaper that is why the novel is much influenced by these forms. It has a great value for the historical study because it reflects the actual problems and ideas of the time it was written in.

Martin Delany was the representative of the separatist philosophy in the American history and it is reflected in his novel “Blake or the huts of America” (Dr. Martin Delany: From Black History. Conrad Worrill).This is his central thesis which is rendered through the main character and the development of the plot. The main character, the West Indian man, who was kidnapped to America and sold there as a slave, travels through the South of The USA and gets to Cuba where the rebellion is planned and this form is also transcended to the American idea of black population position in the American society. Thus he starts planning the slave insurrection in the USA. This is the main idea that Delany conveys in his novel.

The methods that Martin R.Delany used in his novel are methods of political and social analysis. The author studies the political and social issues of 1850s – slavery as institution, practicality of militant slave revolution, possibility of collective action. Delany was active politician and his works reflect this. Very interesting is also the form of traveling that he chose for his novel – it was often used by many authors in order to give the reader the broad picture of the society and country situation of the given time. Thus Delany through one character’s traveling shows us the whole American society of 1850s. This is a very difficult literature method which Delany used very genuine.

Martin Delany defines the problem very explicit in the main character Henry and the problem is the position of African Americans in the society of the USA of 1850s. His sympathies are at the side of the oppressed black population and it can be noticed through the description of the main character Henry and other black people in the novel. The main author’s antagonism is directed against the role of Christianity in the black society that proposed the oppressed people to stay humble and obedient, whereas Delany challenged the black population to stand up for their rights and to fight for them with guns when necessary, he hold to just different point of view - active opposition instead of passive submission, and he saw the source of this ideology in Christianity.

The influence of other disciplines are to be found in the novel “Blake or the huts of America” - first, in the chosen subject, second in the analysis the author gives in the direct and indirect way by describing the characters and the events of the plot. In the novel there is the influence of such disciplines as politics study and sociology. Martin Delany meditates on the different forms of political state organization and their possibility for the USA. This is where the description of the Cuban model of self-governed state is important as it is compared to the USA state system. The author also studies such social subjects as the race, class, and gender through the relations between Henry and other characters. Another discipline that is connected with this novel is history because in “Blake or the huts of America” the deep intrinsic historical analysis of the American culture and the place of the black population in it is given and it makes this work indispensable for the American literature and history. At this book mane historical lessons can be learnt.

The work “Blake or the huts of America” has also the personal influences because it was created by Martin Delany as the reply to the book “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Delany considered this work insufficient of giving the right ideas about the position of the African Americans and that is why he started writing “Blake”. In his novel Delany gives critical answer and opposite point of view to the same subject that was given in the Stowe’s work (2,43).

There is the song that proves the above given ideas, it is from the chapter “The Attack, Resistance, Arrest”:

I’m on my way to Canada
That cold and dreary land:
The dire effects of slavery,
I can no longer stand.
My soul is vexed within me so,
To think that I’m a slave,
I’ve now resolved to strike the blow,
For freedom or the grave.

The conclusion of the work is given through the scenes where Henry meets the Cuban abolitionist poet Gabriel known as Placido who inspires the people to the rebellion by his poems. This character can be viewed as the role model for all the black writers who are to give the real picture of their folk’s situation and must inspire the people to the changes. The broader conclusion is to be found in the outcome of the Cuban revolution and its gaining independence. This Cuba’s model of self-governed black state Martin Delany applied for the USA and the African population in it. His ideas were to immigrate back to Africa or to build independent social system for Africans inside of American state. This conclusion important for social and political life of the black population is given implicitly, without direct call to the revolution but with the clear challenge to act and fight for the rights of the folk. It must have produced the great effect in the social and political life of 1850s in America.

I cannot say that I agree with this conclusion though I am for the equal rights for all the social groups, for different races, classes and genders – here my opinions coincide with the ones of Martin Delany. However I am for other ways of changing the social and political situation, I do not agree that the social revolution can change the folk’s to best, that was sadly proved by the example of the Soviet revolution in Russia in the early 19th century. My opinion is that the changes in society come when there are changes in the people’s attitudes. So my point of view is not for revolution as one of Martin R.Delany, but for evolution, and particularly evolution in the social thoughts and attitudes.

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