Dutchman and The Slave

Who’s to Say?: Insanity in Dutchman

An apple pressed precariously to her blushed lips, Lula from Leroi Jones’ existential drama Dutchman is the epitome of temptation. She snakes around the train car, spying Clay and eventually driving him to his outburst late in the second scene. Clay’s speech is spontaneously provoked, but is nonetheless revealing about his character. In Jones’ play, Lula pushes the boundaries of social decency with her form of neurotic and offensive insanity, eventually forcing Clay to engage in his own animalistic tantrum, illustrating that the two characters, although different in motivation and actions, both harbor some form of insanity.

Lula attacks Clay on all fronts, specifically addressing his clothing and how it is an inaccurate reflection of his identity. She says to him, “Boy, whose narrow-shoulder clothes come from a tradition you ought to feel oppressed by. A three button suit. What right do you have to be wearing a three button suit? Your grandfather was a slave, he didn’t go to Harvard” (18). Lula accuses Clay repeatedly of being pretentious, of trying to be something he should not or cannot be, even saying, “You ain’t no nigger, you’re just a dirty white man” (31). The three button suit, for example, would be something...

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