Allmendinger, Blake. "The Plow and the Pen: The Pioneering Adventures of Oscar Micheaux" American Literature 75.3 (2003): 545-569.
Content and Relevance of Work:
Blake Allmendinger elects to analyze Micheaux's written works as opposed to his films in his article titled "The Plow and the Pen: The Pioneering Adventures of Oscar Micheaux". However, this is still very relevant to the question I have posed because a look at his portrayal of black people in his writings may help us understand Micheaux's representation of blacks in his film, Body and Soul. Allmendinger's focus, in particular, is on three of Micheaux's novels which he believes form a trilogy: The Conquest, The Homesteader and The Wind from Nowhere. Allmendinger argues that historians and critics have focused too much on Micheaux the filmmaker and allotted an inadequate amount of research and time to study of Micheaux the author. He contends that Micheaux's partially autobiographical novels reveal the most about his personal beliefs and ideas. Allmendinger puts a lot of stock in what he dubs Micheaux's "double consciousness"; this was a contradiction between black reality and fantasy in which Micheaux knew that people of his race could achieve economic success but were, in essence, hindered by the white man's underestimation of black potential. Allmendinger alludes to this as he points out the contrast between Micheaux's first book of the trilogy, The Conquest, and the other two books, The Homesteader and The Wind from Nowhere. The former refutes the notion that blacks can achieve the American dream and the latter two run counter to this and provide black protagonists who lift themselves up and become heroes who realize freedom. The difference between the two storylines possibly runs the gamut between reality and fantasy. Allmendinger also points out that Micheaux's alter egos, the protagonists of these novels, exhibit contempt for blacks who do not work diligently and attempt to rise above racial bounds. This could correspond to Micheaux's film Body and Soul and the characters he presents there. The negative images he provides in Body and Soul may be similar to the blacks in these novels who he appears to disdain for their lack of effort to overcome racial tensions. It is clear that Almendinger's analysis of Micheaux's writings proves very useful in understanding Micheaux's view of blacks and concomitant presentation of blacks in films such as Body and Soul.