B.N.M. as a Dystopian Novel

21 Feb

Quite contrary to Bellamy’s novel Looking Backward and Gilman’s Herland, George S. Schuyler’s Black No More is definitely a dystopian novel in which the society is in a complete chaos and disorder, unlike Looking Backward and Herland where society is in a perfect condition and order. In this response I will limit my comments to how Schuyler uses satire to picture a dystopian society, and also how he seemed to be satirizing the American society in the mid 20th century.

From reading the first couple of chapters, it seemed to me that this would be another utopian novel, because the ever controversial issue of race would be completely eliminated from the American society, which was a dilemma that lasted for many decades. So my first reaction is that people now would surely live in harmony and peace, and that Schuyler is using race as a means of picturing a perfect society. Nonetheless, as I start flipping the pages, I realized that this is not the case, it seemed that the attempt to neutralize race has only generated a countless of social, economical, and political problems. Schuyler’s use of satire is extraordinary in this novel, especially by his fictionalization of the issues that resulted from the race transformation and how both whites and (upper class) blacks got affected by such procedure. From an economical standpoint, the situation got worse and the jobs that were once assigned to the oppressed black people were left unoccupied. Also, this procedure has resulted a social outrage from whites, this is evident from the strong emergence of the Knights of Nordica, an organization that is dedicated to fight for white racial integrity. From a political viewpoint, we notice how the two political parties are divided on Dr. Crookman’s business, which had a severe effect on the political situation in America.

In sum, Schuyler’s main aim in the novel, I believe, is to prove that race would always be an obstacle in the way of forming an utopian society, and as long as racism is an issue in the society, the idea of a perfect society would be out of reach. Also wanted to prove that race is a socially constructed issue, and there is no escape from that. Another point which I believe is worth mentioning is the fact that Schuyler seems to put the blame on both blacks and whites in the issues that results from race. To take the character of Max Disher as an example, we can sense his naivety by what drives him to decide to change his skin color. His reason was only to go and search for the lady that rejected him because of his skin color. He did not want to change because to improve his social and financial situation, but only to search for his prefered “yellow” woman. Schuyler satirizes the black’s race pride.

2 Responses to “B.N.M. as a Dystopian Novel”

  1. Dr Lothian February 21, 2013 at 5:47 pm #

    You say that “Schuyler seems to put the blame on both blacks and whites in the issues that results from race” — and this is definitely true. But does the blame rest equally? What answer do you get for this if you compare different moments in the text –– the lynching scene with Max in the bar, for example?

    • ziyad762 February 21, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Thank you Dr. Lothian for your reply
      I don’t believe that the blame rests equally on both races, nonetheless I believe that one of Schuyler’s main points in the text is that he implicitly criticizing the lack of race pride, especially in Max’s character as he only decided to change his race to pursue the woman that he saw on one night. More importatntly when he became an important figure in the society as a white man, he didn’t try to help his “true” race in one way or another.

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