E-mail a link to this book. The Sport of the Gods is a novel by Paul Laurence Dunbar, first published in , centered around urban black life. Forced to leave the South, a family falls apart amid the harsh realities of Northern inner city life in this examination of the forces that extinguish the dreams of African Americans. The Nebula Award has been awarded to stories in the Science Fiction and Fantasy genre every year since Learn about the winners of the s!
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Basket 0 items. Toggle navigation. Signet, Mass Market Paperback. Disclaimer:A readable copy. But then again, I was educated in white-biased literature.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the novel is its believability. No one can say that any one character is cruel or evil, even Maurice Oakley. He does this to show us how the environment, the very air, was hostile to African Americans. We see it every day in the actions of our modern police force.
My feelings on this book are confused. Is this a 2 star book, a 4 star book, or a 5 star book?
Sport Gods by Paul Laurence
I really have no idea. I settled on 3 star because I thought it was closest to neutral. First, in terms of writing skill stars for sure. Wonderfully well written. It's a short book, but there is a lot packed into it. It's also very engaging, and hard to put down.
I read it in about an hour, and I wished it was longer because I wasn't ready to be done. However, in regards to the 'moral' or point of t My feelings on this book are confused. However, in regards to the 'moral' or point of the story Dunbar hates Harlem. Like, woah, hates Harlem. Dunbar would say it's the 'H' of Hatred and, more importantly, Hellfire. He portrays it as a city of scam artists, drunks, gamblers, thiefs, and people brought low by their obsession with the 'pleasures of the body'.
He encourages Black people to stay in their small, racist, southern towns--even if they end up being imprisoned unfairly, or maybe even if you are hung. Stay in those towns because they are better for your soul. In this, Dunbar seems to be repeating weird and awful tropes from white literature--I mean, the story of people moving to the big city to be corrupted only to their safe small home towns is a fairly common one.
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Essentially, that is Dunbar's story. In this novel, he portrays no --and I mean literally no --positive, honest, helpful, or likeable characters in the city of Harlem.
Instead, it's a city guaranteed to eat you up and spit you out. While I find this depiction of interesting--I mean, it's literally pretty much the exact opposite of how practically every single other person in the Harlem Renaissance talks about Harlem, I'm ultimately not sure it's any more accurate than any other story. No city is perfect, or pure. Cities are not paved with gold, and money doesn't grow on trees. But neither is any city filled with only evil people who are out to trick you, leech off you, strangle you, and throw your body in the gutter. Cities and people are more complicated than that.
Or dare I say, Anti-Black? In having his main characters return to the home of the man who betrayed them, Dunbar is telling us it's better to stay with the devil you know--even if he imprisons, beats, or kills you--than to struggle to make a beautiful, complex, rich, lush, world filled with potentials and possibilities. And I just have a hard time with that.
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Quote from the book: There were some indeed who for an earnest hour sermonized about it and said "Here is another example of the pernicious influence of the city on untrained negros. Oh is there no way to keep these people from rushing away from small villages and country districts of the south up to the cities, where they cannot battle with the terrible force of a strange and unusual environment? Is there no way to prove to them that wollen-shirted, brown-jeaned simplicity is infinitely better than broad clothed degradation?
They wanted to dare say that the South has its faults--no one condones them--and its disadvantages , but even what they suffered from these is better than what awaited them in the great alleys of New York. Down there, the bodies were restrained, and they chafed; but here the soul would fester, and they would be content.
This was but for an hour, for even while they exclaimed they knew there was no way , and that the stream of young negro life would continue to flow up from the south, dashing itself against the hard necessities of the city and breaking like waves against a rock,--that, until the gods grew tired of their cruel sport, there must be sacrifices to false ideals and unreal ambitions. Ibram X Kendi in his book "Stamped from the Beginning: A history of Racist Ideas in America" suggests there is a racist history of "assimilationist" thinking in the history of Black scholars.
He lists W.
Du Bois and Booker T. Washington as being people who believe that Black people have been "enbrutalized" by slavery--that is, had all their culture and learning and being taken from them and turned into literal brutes. Kendi feels this is ridiculous. Sep 25, Andrew rated it really liked it Shelves: kindle , fiction. The sad story of a Southern Black family whose fortunes fail as their patriarch is wrongly accused of a theft. Although the father is eventually cleared of the crime, so much tragedy is visited upon the family it hardly seems that justice has been done.
Despite the sad nature of the tale it is well written and is certainly worth a read. May 06, Veronica rated it it was amazing Shelves: the-south.
Customer Review Snapshot
A Southern black family moves to New York City after losing their place in town due to circumstances not of their making. They become victims of others losing consequently losing all they value along with their innocence. Faith is lost. For English teachers there is a bit of Macbeth in here. For Social Studies teachers a mention of yellow journalism.
Oct 11, Thom Swennes rated it liked it. Many ex-slaves continued to work at the same thing they did before their liberation for whatever wages they could get.