The “Ancestor” Figure in Langston Hughes’ Not Without Laughter: Anticipation of Feminist Theoretical Accounts in Male Representations

Babacar Dieng


Shifting the focus from black women to black men novelists, this work inspired by Barbara Christian’s seminal work, Black Women Novelists: The Development of a Tradition, 1892-1976 (1980), studies the characterization of Aunt Hager in Not Without Laughter, Hughes’ Harlem Renaissance novel, against the backdrop of the struggle over the image of the black woman in literary representations. It compares and contrasts Hughes’ character with the stereotypical depictions of the mammy in Antebellum and southern representations and the emancipatory portraits of the black woman in counter-narratives from the abolitionist to the New Renaissance periods. It argues that Hughes constructs a complex character combining features of the mammy but sufficiently revising it to give birth to a new archetype that anticipates the emergence of the Morrisionian “ancestor.”  

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