Realism, Naturism and Modernism period is one of the most fascinating elements of African American literature. Many of the writers of this period emphasize the harshness of African American life in their work. These writers are simply unapologetic in the way they view life.
Writers of this period held that these three terms had outstanding differences. “Realism is a window by which to view the lives of ordinary people; naturalism examines the most raw and real variables of a culture while modernism is a contemporary form that allows artists to experiment with new styles” (Hakutani 5). Harlem Renaissance preceded the entry of these writers in literature scene, which happened between 1940 and 1960.
Important writers of this era include Melvin Tolson, Ann Perry, Ralph Ellison, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Richard Wright among others. However, Richard Wright is the most important figure of this period; actually, the other writers were said to have attended “Wright School.”
There are different reasons why these writers were said to have attended “Wright School.” Firstly, Richard Wright came before any other writer of this period; he lived between 1908 and 1960. The other writers emulated Wright and bought his theories. Wright never accepted most of the writings from Harlem Renaissance; therefore, he became a big critic of these writings.
The other writers that came after Wright held his believes and became critics of Harlem Renaissance writings. This is the reason they were said to have attended “Wright School.” Moreover, Wright concerned himself with exposing the challenges that were facing black Americans in urban areas; something that the writers that came after him exposed and analyzed further.
The description given to the writers of this age is accurate. For instance, Ralph Ellison, in his book Invisible Man, talks of challenges that blacks were facing. The only difference between Ralph’s work and that of Wright is that, “Ralph’s characters were articulate, educated, and self-aware” (Hakutani 9).
Change of characters does not change theme; therefore, Ralph emulated Wright. Gwendolyn Brook also touched on the challenges facing blacks through her poems. Her main agenda was to call blacks into social and economic awareness, something that was conspicuously missing during Harlem Renaissance. Maud Martha; one of Brooks’ outstanding poems is about life of a young black woman from her birth to marriage exposing the challenges that she went through.
Other writers like James Baldwin, “Spoke of pain and suffering of black Americans and saving power of brotherhood” (Hakutani 11). Baldwin’s writings were inspired by personal experiences that he went through under a strict father and a discriminating society. Finally, Lorraine Hansberry, “Explored African roots of African-American experiences especially the segregation issue her family dealt with in Chicago” (Hakutani 11).
Taking a close look at the literature works of these writers, it is evident that they were unapologetic about their standpoint. They wanted the world to know the sufferings of blacks in America during those times. However, Wright was the ‘father’ of them all for he was the first to write about blacks and criticize Harlem Renaissance writings.
Therefore, it is appropriate to say that writers of Realism, Naturism, and Modernism period attended “Wright School.” These writers matured under the intimidation of Harlem Renaissance; having been provoked by the same, the entry of realism, naturism, and modernism period offered them an opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings unapologetically and harshly.
Hakutani, Yoshinobu. “Richard Wright: Critical Perspectives Past and Present.” African American Review. Kent University, 1995.