Jesus Christ and Slavery: A Discussion of the Usage of Christ Figures within African-American Literature

Student: Kimberly Snyder
Mentor: Pamela Buck
Major: English

After explaining the importance and methodology behind interpreting literature through Black Theory and explaining the significant and omnipresent symbolism of the Christ figures within African American literature, I submit three novels in which the racial symbolism makes a profound statement about the destroying and terrorizing nature of slavery and its ongoing affect on the African American culture throughout generations. Each novel uses a black protagonist as a Christ figure in order to make a particular statement about the culture of the United States, the attitude of the criminal systems, and the unending adverse affects slavery has had on this group of people. Each use of Christ figures directly correlates to Black Theory, because the author is acknowledging the suffering and discrimination present against the black community since the creation of slavery. In using Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriett Beecher Stowe, A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines, and Light in August by William Faulkner I will emphasize the use of this particular symbolism, in which ways each protagonist fits the role of a Christ figure, and how theses varying interpretations of a Christ figure display a significant attitude towards slavery depending on the culture of the generation in which the text was written.