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 American Literature

Final Project Example: Oppression & Poverty

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Oppression & Poverty

For my final project, I would delve into the subjects of oppression and poverty. This is a common bond in the stories we have read. The poetry and writings of Hughes, The Street, Staggerford, Ruth Hall, Frederick Douglass, "A Deal in Wheat" and O Pioneers all touch on the subjects of poverty and oppression of different groups of people in various settings. The works also show us that we are not in control of most of the dealings of our life.

For my bulletin board, I would try to create a editorial cartoon type theme, similar to the style and artwork of Thomas Nast (famous for his battle against Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall in New York City). I would have three figures at the top of the scene holding marionette control rods. At the bottom of the scene, I would have the characters from the stories attached by strings to the marionettes. The three figures at the top would be Big Money Interests (or Wealth in general),Politicians/Administrative Personnel and The White Male. All three have oppressed the characters in the stories in different ways. The characters at the bottom could in some cases be shown as controlled by more than one of the figures, so the wires would become intertwined and jumbled.

  • I would show the three figures controlling the author of "Dear Dr. Butts" from Langston Hughes.
  • Frederick Douglass would be shown as being controlled by all three as well.
  • The character of Ruth Hall would be controlled by The White Male.
  • The characters in The Street would be controlled by all of the figures.
  • The farm characters from "A Deal In Wheat" would be controlled by the Big Money Interests and Politicians/Administrative personnel, as would some of the characters from O Pioneers.
  • Staggerford characters would be controlled by all three as the Native Americans would be under control of the White Male through treatment, by Big Money Interest by connections to exploitation and by Politicians/Administrative Personnel by their treatment. Miles could also be included in the scene as he is somewhat controlled by Administrative Personnel.

The board would show the characters trying to break free of the bonds that oppress them and relegate them to poverty or living in a style they would rather not live in.

The overall effect is that even though we are free to make our own choices and decisions about what we do, we are not ultimately in control of the essential nature of the world around us due to the influence of forces that subjugate us, even in ways that are not directly related to us. Thus the bulletin board would show the lives of people being toyed with, like marionettes at a puppet show, and how more than one of these influences can direct and affect our lives.