Stonequist’s Concept of “The Marginal Man” in Langston Hughes’ Play Mulatto

Farshid Nowrouzi Roshnavand, Rajabali Askarzadeh Torghabeh


Born with the inception of the slave trade, interracial mixing has always been a moot point throughout the history of the United States. In America’s racist climate, the mulatto offspring of every interracial relationship was deemed by the dominant white society to be born of transgression and thus was marginalized and disenfranchised as an alleged tainter of white “pure blood” and a threat to the societal system of structural positions. Facing discrimination and injustice like black Americans, white-black mulattoes also suffered from not belonging to a definite racial group. This duality of a mixed-blood’s life has grabbed the attention of many scholars including Everett Verner Stonequist who discussed the fragile subalternized status of the “marginal man” in an antagonistic environment while he rejects and craves for both of his racial ancestries at the same time. Envisioning a three-phase life-cycle for a mulatto, Stonequist maintained that the mulatto has either to conform to the status quo and survive or defy the power structures and embrace, mostly unfavorable, consequences. This paper aims to apply Stonequist’s concept of “marginal man” to Langston Hughes’ play Mulatto (1935) and tries to show how the alienated and rootless protagonist is inevitably precipitated into death and destruction.



Interracial Mixing, Marginal Man, Racism, Subalternity, Mulatto

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