Tag Archives: animal

Jane and Melanetha

“Melanetha was pale yellow and mysterious and a little pleasant like her mother, but the real power in Melanetha’s nature came though her robust and unpleasant and very unendurable black father.”

“Jane was a roughened woman. She had power and she liked to use it, she had much white blood and that made her see clear, she liked drinking and that made her reckless. Her white blood was strong in her and she had grit and endurance and a vital courage. She was always game, however much she was in trouble.”

Each of these passages presents us with a woman who is not only strong but of mixed race. Melanetha, who we meet first, is seen as a ‘pale yellow’ woman with a black father. In this case I believe that the ‘pale yellow’ would stand for a woman of lighter skin, but not pure white skin. This ‘pale yellow’ is not enough as we are told that internally she is like her ‘black’ father. In contrast Jane is a woman who we are told up front is a woman of strength and a clear mind that comes from her ‘white’ blood. We learn from the text that Jane was not dumb, she had attended two years of college and as Melanetha’s teacher of the world one can imagine her passing on what she learned to her; in both cases though we are told that the women are affected by their black parentage in a negative way. These undertones give us the racist idea that to not be of ‘white’ blood makes you weaker and more animal like. It is the ‘white’ part of Jane’s blood that we are told is what makes her ‘see clear’ or in other words makes her intelligent. The internal ‘white’ blood is more important than external. That is Melanetha who is the lighter skinned of the two is the more animal and unpleasant in nature, liker her father. Jane being the seemingly darker of the two is shown us a women of a ‘clear’ mind and one of strength. This inner ‘clear’ mind is explained as a gift from her ‘white’ blood.