The main characters in Suzan-Lori Parks’ The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World are Black Man With Watermelon, Black Woman With Fried Drumstick who is the “significant other”(Bernard, 1997) of Black Man With Watermelon, Ham who is the construction of the myth through his “ghosts”, Queen-then-Pharaoh Hatshepsut who was the only woman to rule in ancient Egypt with power and authority during the Seventeenth Dynasty (1987) and Elam) Before Columbus who was the anti-thesis in the history, also voiced from his “ghosts”, Yes and Greens Black-Eyed Peas CornBread who reflects the culture-orientedness of the play, And Bigger and Bigger and Bigger and Prunes and Prisms whose names were taken from the Joyce’s Ulysses also suggest the culture-based specification of the African-American relationship, Old Man River Jordan , Voice on thuh Tee V and Lots of Grease and Lots of Pork k who reverberates the basic thoughts of Suzan-Lori Parks in her construction of the play. The names of Suzan-Lori Parks’ characters were significant in such a way that they suggest a symbolism of history. (1987) Reviewers and critiques even consider the selection of characters of Suzan-Lori Parks to be a work of genius in that she, herself, renders a distinguished architect of language. The story of the play in addition to the characters who, themselves, tell a story by painting their portrayal of the roles is wonderful and imaginative.
In the play, portrayal of the conflict between the black and white people can be clearly seen and the representation of black as African people in which cruelty to them (black people) existing during 1317 are also depicted in the story (Bernard, 1997) The Black Man With Watermelon is a resemblance of Africans and their hardships when they amalgamate in the Western image. In general, the Black Man With Watermelon’s occurrences hint the plot of the story. Specifically the play tells of a black man who struggled in violence. “He was wrenched from his homeland. Had fallen off a slave ship and from the twenty-third floor. He was busted into flames. ” Eventually he was killed in a not so ordinary way.
Thus, the memory of death is always antagonizing him (Bernard, 1997). In that, Suzan-Lori Parks’ The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World was reflecting the case status in her perspective upon the “blacks” under the Western treatment. However, as echoed in the play, the last black man, Black Man With Watermelon never died long because, in the anguishes he had gone through, he always returned in the action of the story. The Black Man With Watermelon somehow reveals a mythical figure and a mighty hero. The Black Woman With Fried Drumstick is another character of the main plot who tells the story of this typical man who lived his life of slavery and dies repeatedly.
Black Woman With Fried Chicken tells of the story of how Black Man With Watermelon died and what comes next to his death . (Nataraj) In the spirit of the Black Woman With Fried Drumstick, she resembles her pity to Black Man With Watermelon’s death by relating it or by storytelling for others’ sake of recognition to Black Man With Watermelon’s heroism. ”Lots Of Grease and Lots Of Pork” signifies the naturalistic style of the play. He appears in scene as suggested by his name, with a lot of grease and a lot of pork. Similarly, Queen-then-Pharaoh Hatshepsut and And Bigger and Bigger and Bigger also play their role in the story as their name suggested as well as some of the other characters in the play.
Yes and Greens Black-Eyed Peas Cornbread , also one of the main casts of characters, said that , “the death of the last black man in the whole entire world must b e written and be hidden under the rock (Bernard, 1997) Another interesting character is the “Black Man With Watermelon”, respective to other characters, may somehow lost in between but still depicts the situation in a “post modern slavery” context. He has been able to assert his inner “self” in which can be clearly symbolize by the existence of “I” in his dialogue but still spellbound to his existing predicament. This can be clearly analyze in his dialogue: “(I bein in uh Now: uh Now bein in uh Then: I bein, in Now in Then, in I will be. I was be too but thats uh Then thats past. That me that was-be is uh me has-been.
Thuh Then that was-be is uh has-been-Then too. Thuh me-has-been sits in thuh be-me: we sit on this porch. Same porch. Same me …. )” (Bernard “The Musicality of Language: Redefining History in Suzan-Lori Parks’s’s the Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World”) Critically analyzing the plot of the play, the title, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, “death” does not mean as it was depicted literally as it was the ending of all vital functions or processes in an organism or simply the end of being alive. (Encarta Dictionary) Suzan-Lori Parks expressed the concept of death as another thought in the perspective of the theater.
The metaphoric and connotative language that Suzan-Lori Parks articulates in her work is very meaningful for her agenda which originated from her “need to write the context of her mind down” and that which born the main concept of the play. She explains it, based on her own experience, that one time when she woke up after a short nap she stared at the wall, not realizing that it was not a dream anymore, she reads the statement. Written up there between the window and the wall were the words: “This is the death of the last negro man in the whole entire world”. Then realization of the written up there in black vapor, realization comes in and she to herself, “You should write that down” …. ”(Bernard, 1997)
Evidently enough, “Yes and Greens Black-Eyed Peas Combread” spoken phrase (in which it has been common in the play) makes it easy for the audience to bear in their minds. As a self-interpretation for that, the repetitive use of the phrase symbolizes her directedness in writing that play serving as one of her in spirations and ideas of her characters. To answer Suzan-Lori Parks’ definition or characterization of “death”, a collection of critiques words of mouth said that it would mean the whim that will make a person to agonize in his/her “consciousness”. In turn, the culture of “Afro-American” has been emblazoned and the play is a multifaceted of “identity and subjectivity” in many aspects more particularly in “Afro-American” context.
According to Nataraj, Park believes that death of the character, people will forget the existence of the black people (1987). Still, death is the context of Suzan-Lori Parks’ masterpiece. The main character, Black Man With Watermelon, in the Death of the Last Black Man, will always be dying in the hands of his fate. The souls of imparted in the characters of the players were enlivened by the mixing up of different concepts of religion, culture, literature and history (1997). Finally, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World to apparently decipher the “other” thought to Suzan Lori Parks, Jackson supported her in context of the eternity of the “spirit’ of one’s individual, thus death is almost non-existence (1987).