By Harry Justin Elam; David Krasner
An anthology of severe writings that explores the intersections of race, theater, and function in America.
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Extra resources for African-American performance and theater history : a critical reader
In the Aiken version, Cassy ﬁrst appears on the stage when she gives Tom water after his initial whipping by Legree. She seems so convincingly white that Tom mistakes her for the mistress, and she corrects him roughly: “Don’t call me missis. ”28 She then admonishes Tom to give up his battle against Legree and recounts her own record of disgrace at Legree’s hands. She has neither the majesty nor the suggestion of magical powers that Stowe’s Cassy manifests. A similar conversation occurs between the two in the novel, but the language is slightly different.
26 In this description, Stowe speciﬁes her age and, though identiﬁed by her appearance as a tragic mulatto ﬁgure, Cassy’s age places her in the same generation as the conventional mammy ﬁgure. But Cassy’s sexual usage sets her apart from the mythic mammy. Stowe places Cassy at the end of her youth, and her value as a concubine to Legree is on the decline. Were Cassy a more complacent character, and Legree less ruthless, she might haveevolved from her role in sexual service to simply a service role like that of the mammy ﬁgure.
Here, I will consider in more depth only the ﬁgure of Cassy, since it is she who most closely approximates the tragedy of the mulatto. Although Richard Yarborough describes Cassy as a “proud, willful, mixedblood woman who has been driven to infanticide by broken promises, sexual exploitation, and horrible suffering, Cassy resists her enslavement more ﬁercely and actively than any black character besides George Harris,”23 Cassy Uncle Tom’s Women 27 also exempliﬁes the Victorian image of the fallen woman.