“THE FORCES THAT CAME TOGETHER TO INFLICT THAT PAIN”: CLASS, RACE, AND SEXUALITY IN ELLEN FELDMAN’S SCOTTSBORO

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.12795/REN.2022.i26.03

Keywords:

Scottsboro Boys; Scottsboro; Ellen Feldman; the black beast rapist myth; the southern rape complex; legal lynchings

Abstract

In the infamous Scottsboro case (Alabama, 1931), nine black youths were falsely accused of raping two low-class white girls that happened to be sexually promiscuous with both white and black males. The Scottsboro Boys were innocent victims of the southern rape complex and the automatic legal lynching of any black male accused of raping a white woman. The main character of Ellen Feldman’s novel Scottsboro (2008) is based largely on two progressive northern reporters, Mary Heaton Vorse and Hollace Ransdall, both of whom looked into the case. She visits Alabama and learns about the complex racial, class, and gender relations there, as well as her own bigotry and class-privilege. Like Ransdall and Vorse, she reports on an event in which two poor victims of capitalist oppression are elevated from the level of “white trash” to be made representatives of “defiled” white womanhood, while eight of the nine black youths, stereotyped as hypersexualized and inherently criminal, are given death sentences because of the tyranny of values which mean nothing in the life of the girls themselves.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

References

BARDAGLIO, Peter W. “Rape and the Law in the Old South: ‘Calculated to excite indignation in every heart.’” The Journal of Southern History, vol. 60, no. 4, 1994, pp. 749-772.

BARKER, Deborah E. Reconstructing Violence: The Southern Rape Complex in Film and Literature. Louisiana State UP, 2015.

BROWNMILLER, Susan. Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape. Simon and Schuster, 1975.

CARTER, Dan T. Scottsboro: A Tragedy of the American South. Revised ed. Louisiana State UP, 2007.

CASH, W. J. The Mind of the South. Thames and Hudson, 1971.

CRESPINO, Joseph. “The Strange Career of Atticus Finch.” Southern Cultures, vol. 6, no. 2, 2000, pp. 9-29.

DU BOIS, W.E.B. 1935. Black Reconstruction in America. Routledge, 2017.

DURU, N. Jeremi. “The Central Park Five, the Scottsboro Boys, and the Myth of the Bestial Black Man.” Cardozo Law Review, vol. 25, no. 4, 2004, pp. 1315-1365.

FAULKNER, William. “Dry September.” The Collected Stories of William Faulkner. Penguin, 1989, pp. 169-183.

FELDMAN, Ellen. “Afterword.” Scottsboro, by Elllen Feldman. Picador, 2015, pp. 365-367.

---. Scottsboro. Picador Classic, 2015.

FREEDMAN, Estelle B. Redefining Rape: Sexual Violence in the Era of Suffrage and Segregation. Harvard UP, 2013.

FREDRICKSON, George M. The White Image in the White Mind: The Debate on Afro-American Character and Destiny, 1817-1914. Harper & Row, 1971.

GENOVESE, Eugene. Roll, Jordan, Roll: The World the Slaves Made. Pantheon Books, 1974.

GOODMAN, James. Stories of Scottsboro. Vintage, 1995.

GRAHAM, Allison. Framing the South: Hollywood, Television, and Race during the Civil Rights Struggle. Johns Hopkins UP, 2001.

HAIR, William I., and Amy Louise Wood. “Lynching and Racial Violence.” The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, vol. 24: Race, edited by Thomas C. Holt and Laurie B. Green, U of North Carolina P, 2013, pp. 87-92.

HODES, Martha. White Women, Black Men: Illicit Sex in the Nineteenth-Century South. Yale UP, 1997.

JENKINS, McKay. The South in Black and White: Race, Sex, and Literature in the 1940s. U of North Carolina P, 1999.

JONES, Anne Goodwyn. “Belles and Ladies.” The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture. Vol. 13: Gender, edited by Nancy Bercaw and Ted Ownby, U of North Carolina P, 2009, pp. 42-49.

JORDAN, Winthrop D. White Over Black: American Attitudes toward the Negro, 1550-1812. U of North Carolina P, 1968.

KELLEY, Robin D. G. “Memory and Politics.” The Nation, 3 Oct. 1994, pp. 352-355.

KENNEDY, Randall. Race, Crime, and the Law. Pantheon Books, 1997.

MILLER, James. Remembering Scottsboro: The Legacy of an Infamous Trial. Princeton UP, 2009.

OKLOPCIC, Biljana. “Adapting the Adapted: The Black Rapist Myth in E. R. Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes and Its Film Adaptations.” Anafora, vol. 4, no. 2, 2017, pp. 313-331.

PHILLIPS, Jayne Anne. “Introduction.” Scottsboro, by Ellen Feldman. Picador, 2015, pp. vii-xiii.

RANSDALL, Hollace. “Report on the Scottsboro, Alabama Case.” May 27, 1931. https://famous-trials.com/scottsboroboys/2344-firsttrial-2. Accessed 19 September 2021.

“Scottsboro.” Publishers Weekly, 21 Jan. 2008, p. 148.

SHIELDS, Charles J. Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee. Henry Holt, 2006.

SHRIVER, Lionel. “Sugar-coating the Scottsboro Boys.” Telegraph, 5 Jul. 2008. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/fictionreviews/3555805/Sugar-coating-the-Scottsboro-Boys.html. Accessed 19 September 2021.

SMITH, Lillian. Killers of the Dream. Revised ed., Norton, 1994.

SOMMERVILLE, Diane Miller. “The Rape Myth in the Old South Reconsidered.” The Journal of Southern History, vol. 61, no. 3, 1995, pp. 481-518.

SUNDQUIST, Eric J. “Blues for Atticus Finch: Scottsboro, Brown, and Harper Lee.” The South as an American Problem, edited by Larry J. Griffin and Don H. Doyle, U of Georgia P, 1995, pp. 181-209.

THURSTON, Michael. “Black Christ, Red Flag: Langston Hughes on Scottsboro.” College Literature, vol. 22, no. 3, 1 Oct. 1995, pp. 30-49.

VORSE, Mary Heaton. “How Scottsboro Happened.” The New Republic, 10 May 1933. https://www.marxists.org/subject/women/authors/vorse/scotts.html. Accessed 19 September 2021.

WEST, Cornel. Race Matters. Beacon Press, 2017.

Downloads

Published

2022-06-01

How to Cite

González Groba, C. “‘THE FORCES THAT CAME TOGETHER TO INFLICT THAT PAIN’: CLASS, RACE, AND SEXUALITY IN ELLEN FELDMAN’S SCOTTSBORO”. Revista De Estudios Norteamericanos, vol. 26, June 2022, doi:10.12795/REN.2022.i26.03.

Issue

Section

Articles
Received 2021-10-18
Accepted 2022-04-04
Published 2022-06-01
Views
  • Abstract 245
  • PDF 141