Date of Award

January 1983

Degree Type



When the Negro was brought by force to a New World, he was subjected to new conditions of life to which he was compelled to adjust himself. He later became one of America's greatest social problems and entered directly or indirectly in the conditioning and determining of personal and group behavior. True, he had been brought here for one purpose only and that was to insure the economic stability of his white masters. Learning, the rights of citizenship, home ownership, participation in governmental affairs and even the right to religious worship were fantastic notions not applicable to these hewers of wood and tillers of soil.1 But the New World underwent changes, and simultaneously the Negroes too. They became men entitled to all the rights attaining thereto. The new race was regarded in a new light. They were new observed politically, economically and educationally. Former masters found themselves trying to check the strides of former slaves, because this racial minority should not be allowed to corrupt the population stock and debase the social standards.2 However, with his freedom, and subsequent growth, the Negro developed certain attitudes toward his environment. In many situations the Negro had been too ignorant or too cowed by superior force to stage his case clearly and openly. It has been left to the educated Negroes of the twentieth century not only to become articulate, but to make art an ally of social protest. Consequently, many of the novels by Negroes have voiced the resentment and yearnings of the masses. The purpose of this paper is to record these attitudes of the Negro as they are revealed in the Negro novel, where there is mirrored a miniature replica of the world in which he lives. This study will be confined to thirty-three novels written by Negroes from 1900 to the present. The scope of the paper will include the general theme and thesis of the novel together with the opinions and attitudes of the characters who appear in the books. Our attention will be focused on those attitudes that grow out of the educational, religious, and economic life of the Negro, three of the most important aspects of the Negro's social environment. 1Benjamin E. Mays and Joseph W. Nicholson, The Negro's Church, New York, [1933], p. 1. 2Edward B. Reuter, The American Race Problem, New York, [1927], p. 2.