“Rose Johnson was a real black, tall, well built, sullen, stupid, child-like, good looking negress. She laughed when she was happy and grumbled and was sullen with everything that troubled. Rose Johnson was a real black negress but she had been brought up quite like their own child by white folks.” (Stein 47)
“Melanctha Herbert was a graceful, pale yellow, intelligent, attractive negress. She had not been raised like Rose by white folks but then she had been half made with real white blood.” (Stein 48).
In both of these passages the description by Stein makes the characters of Melanctha and Rose as polar opposites in terms of their background. The use of the word “real” is really interesting here – it seems to imply that there is a significant difference between being a real black and not. It is unclear if that difference is something that is intentional and will be explored or if it is left for us as readers to question. The description is also very simple, and very much only on the surface. We don’t get much depth into the characters at this very early point in the novella.
Stein, Gertrude. ” Melanctha” Three Lives. Mineola: Dover, 1994. 47-94. Print