Need help with my writing homework on Colonial theory questions and joe turners come and gone. Write a 500 word paper answering; Patrick Studart 6/23 Colonial Theory and Joe Turners Come and Gone Introduction The play Joe Turner’s Come and Gone was written by August Wilson who is an American playwright. The play is set in a Pittsburg boardinghouse and describes the struggle and lives of African-Americans in the twentieth century. Historically, Pittsburg is a place where many abolitionists resided and publicly declared their anti-slavery views. It is also a place where the abolitionist movement played a major role in the final release of slaves. The play highlights the elements of African heritage which the white people had stripped away from the African- Americans. The play also chronicles the conflicts of slavery, identity, discrimination and racism and migration that the African-Americans had to deal with during the western colonization. Generally, the events in the play represent the kind of life that Africans were exposed to during the period of western colonization. The three main themes covered by the play are identity, migration and racial segregation. Racial Discrimination During the colonial period, western countries established colonies on other continents with the aim of making profit, expanding their territories and power, and for political and religious reasons. In Africa, the move of the western nations to colonize the continent exposed Africans to slavery, migration, discrimination and loss of African identity (Bloom, 135). Thus, in his play, August Wilson highlights the oppressions that the African people were exposed to during the colonial period. Similar to the period of western colonization, August Wilson, in his play presents African-Americans as being exploited and discriminated against by the whites. And, just as Africans were forced to migrate to other areas due to racial discrimination, August presents the life in the American South as marred with intense discrimination thus forcing some African-Americans such as Martha to migrate to Pennsylvania. Says Martha: “Reverend Tolliver wanted to move the church up North ’cause of all the trouble the colored folks were having down there” (Wilson, 34). Migration The play also highlights how Africans were shipped from Africa to Europe to be slaves. During western colonization, the African people were hunted down in Africa and shipped to the western nations to be sold as slaves. Once sold in the western nations, they were forced to work for the whites in their farms for many years and only to be released at the will of those who owned them. In his play, the notorious Joe Turner represents the western nations who impressed Africans into slavery for several years in their plantations. Actually, the playwright has noted that the seven years of Herald’s enslavement represent the four hundred years of slavery that Africans suffered (Bloom, 91). Also, Joe Turner represents western nations because just as them, he would go out and hunt for slaves and bring them back to be sold. Therefore, in relation to western colonization, the slavery carried out by Joe Turner in the play perfectly gives an insight of how western nations treated the Africans during the colonial period. Identity As discussed above, western colonization led to slavery. The slaves were shipped from Africa and once they arrived in Europe they were impressed into slavery for several years and forced to follow the western culture. Due to fear they adopted the western way of life and as years passed they forgot about their identity. However, at the end of slavery they began to search for their identity. According to the playwright in the book, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Herald Loomis represents the many Africans who forgot their identity and are now searching for it. Just as the African slaves, Herald has forgotten his “song” due to his 7 year enslavement by the notorious Joe Turner. Although he believes that he is searching for his lost wife (Martha), Bynum says Herald is actually searching for his identity. Bynum tells him that turner did not only capture him to work in his farm but to also steal his song. Bynum says: “Now he’s got you bound up to where you can’t sing your own song. Couldn’t sing it them seven years ’cause you was afraid he would snatch it from under you”(Wilson, 73). Herald’s plight represents the many Africans who felt cut off their African heritage during the colonial period because of the crippling effects of slavery. However, whereas some Africans felt cut off from their heritage, some extremely maintained their heritage. According to the play, Bynum represents these extreme people who maintained their heritage. At one point in the play, when Herald was referencing his vision of his African ancestors, he said Bynum was “one of them bones people”(Wilson, 73). He is an African conjurer who has the “Binding Song.” According to the play, binding song refers to the power that binds people together. Conclusion The relation of the play to the history of the western colonialism colors the play in that it clearly depicts the experience of Africans in the western nations during the colonial period that took place in the 20th century. Through this relation, August Wilson is able capture the essence of the African experience of migration, search for identity and slavery. Therefore, from African experiences during the colonial period, August Wilson clearly brings out his three themes-identity, racial discrimination and slavery in the play. Work Cited Bloom Harold. August Wilson. New York: InfoBase Publishing, 2009. Wilson August. Joe Turner’s Come and Gone: A Play in Two Acts (First edition Ed.). New York, 1986.


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