Black Masculinity and Plantation Patriarchy in Margaret Walker’s Jubilee

Agnieszka Lobodziec


In Jubilee, Margaret Walker depicts plantation patriarchy as a racial and gendered context that coerces black men to redefine their masculine conceptualizations. The fictitious slave plantation represents the system which commodifies and divides black people “into those with skills [...], field hands, ‘breeding females,’ concubines, and children” (Nichols 1972, p. 10). This portrayal of slave plantation is congruent with historically documented circumstances, when “Much of [the slave] labor was gender- or age- specific” (Ash 2010, p. 20). As far as the position of black men is concerned, ascribed a subordinate status to that of white masters, overseers, and servants, both free and enslaved black men begin to imbibe patriarchal mindset and redefine their own masculine prowess. As Margaret Walker portrays, this response to oppressive plantation patriarchy effects multifarious black male postures, ranging from resisting and self-asserting warriors to humiliated and silenced victims.


plantation patriarchy; gender roles; black men; emasculation; masculine affirmations

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MSC - Masculinities and social change | ISSN: 2014-3605

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