The Trickster Figure in American Literature by Winifred Morgan

By Winifred Morgan

This booklet analyzes and gives clean insights into the trickster culture together with African American, American Indian, Euro-American, Asian American, and Latino/a tales, Morgan examines the oral roots of every racial/ethnic team to bare how each one group's historical past, frustrations, and aspirations have molded the culture in modern literature.

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Valerian goes to great expense and trouble to raise rather common temperate-climate flowers but ignores that lush beauty of the island on which he lives. The natives are attuned to the local myths, including the tar women in the swamp and the blind horsemen on the beach, while Valerian and Margaret live in a house with lovely carvings but awkward plumbing built by poor workers with a greater sense of beauty than craft. Beyond the racial imbalances that the novel emphasizes, the age and class differences between Valerian and Margaret, the age differences between Sydney and Ondine, and the differences in wealth between the Sweets and all of the black characters constantly remind readers of other imbalances.

98 A fr ic a n A mer ic a ns 39 Yusef Komunyakaa’s Poetry (1980s and 1990s)—Lethal Subservience Commonly encountered in the fabric of literary novels and plays, the trickster motif of apparently accepting unfair social structures in order to mask rebellion also surfaces in poetry and popular culture. 100 Thus, the speaker in “Touch-up Man,” first published in I Apologize for the Eyes in My Head (1986), seems to obliterate the horrors he lives with; but he does so as a trickster—hiding his real thoughts, altering the evidence.

The violence of racism and sexism affects all of their lives as well as those of the novel’s minor characters. When healing does come about, it is in large part through the efforts of a series of female tricksters. Although the most apparent of Walker’s female tricksters is Lillie “Shug” Avery, most of the women characters in The Color Purple are tricksters. With this authorial choice, Alice Walker challenges a long African American folk tradition. 90 Shug reflects Esu’s sexual ambivalence. She is bisexual, having born three of Mr ___’s children, but she also becomes his second wife’s long-term lover.

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