Date of Award


Degree Type


University or Center

Clark Atlanta University(CAU)


School of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name




First Advisor

Daniel Black

Second Advisor

Dr. E. Pickens

Third Advisor

Dr. Briggs-Emanuel


This work examines methods used by young Black males dealing with societal impositions (i.e. racial oppression, paternal rejection, mis—education, abandonment, and imprisonment) as seen in Ernest Gaines’ novels Of Love and Dust (1967), In My Father’s House (1978), and a Lesson Before Dying (1993). The paper shows a direct correlation between these external impositions and the destructive behavior demonstrated by the young Black male characters. Gaines’ protagonists, who would be exterminated if Whites in power had their way, suffer from psychological trauma due to the pressures described above. This trauma causes these young Black males to act irresponsibly and thoughtlessly. Furthermore, these young Black males receive guidance from older Black males who teach them to accept the impositions of society as a method of coping with oppression. Also, this examination addresses the author’s metatextual message regarding the social status of young Black males. Over a span of twenty-six years, Gaines depicts characters who continuously worsen and, over time, ultimately disintegrate.

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