Paper 1 How Immorality Leads To A Doomed Fate

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Immorality of Black Women Leads to a Doomed Fate
Amber Calhoun
AAAD 250
March 24, 2015

The films Hallelujah (1929) and Imitation of Life (1934) both depict Black women who meet terrible fates because of their undesirable actions throughout the film. The dynamics of these women, however, are very different, and their fates are met for very different reasons. In Hallelujah (1929), the main female character, Chick, is manipulative, conniving and tricks the main character, Zeke, into falling for her so she can use him, while in Imitation of Life (1934), the female character Peola is lost and confused because of her mixed identity and she struggles to find a place in society. Due to this she disrespects and hurts her African American mother to the point of her death. Both of these women are considered an “Other” in these films, and this “Otherness” contributes to each of their horrible fates at the end of the films. Since they both are characterized outside the social norms of their time, it is usually typical that both characters have unhappy endings. It can be argued that these Black women were met with terrible fates because they were being punished due to their immoral acts throughout each of their respective films. It can also be argued that Chick’s punishment was more severe than Peola’s punishment because the severity of her immoral act was worse than Peola’s and because of the type of person that she was depicted to be. In the film Hallelujah (1929) Chick was first seen dancing and singing surrounded by a group of men who were admiring more than just her dancing and singing skills, but her beauty. She especially catches the attention of the male main character, Zeke, who has just sold his family’s cotton crop for nearly one-hundred dollars. As Zeke begins to pursue Chick, it seems as though the feelings are mutual; however, Chick is only trying to further gain his interest in order to hustle him for his money. We see this during the scene where Zeke is playing craps, and Chick encourages him to bet all his money knowing that her acquaintance, Hot Shot, will win the game and split the winnings with her. She uses her beauty and femininity to distract Zeke from seeing her true character and her true intentions. For this purpose, she is already seen as witty and sneaky at the beginning of the film. After Zeke has become saved because of the accidental shooting of his brother Spunk as a result of the feud between him and Hot Shot, he becomes a staunch preacher. Zeke no longer wants the promiscuous Chick anymore, and Chick sees that. Being the devious person that she is, Chick decides that the way to get Zeke to fall for her again is to get saved and act like she wants to change her life. Of course Zeke eventually falls for her again, after already committing to marry Missy Rose, and he and Chick end up getting married. Once again, Chick wiles Zeke into believing that she truly loves him. After making promises to leave with Hot Shot one night, she coaxes Zeke to sleep and sneaks off. However, Zeke awakes and hears her sneaking out the window in which he chases Chick and Hot Shot down the road where their buggy breaks and Chick is left injured. Soon after, Zeke catches up with Chick and she dies in his arms. Chick’s punishment for deceiving and manipulating a man was her death. In Imitation of Life (1934), we first see Peola as a toddler when she and her mother, Delilah, first move in with Beatrice and her daughter, Jessie. Peola does not realize that she is African American until Jessie calls her that one day when they are a little older. After that point, we see Peola rejecting her African American side and pretending that she is fully White. As she does this, she also disrespects her mother because she is angry at her for being African American and essentially causing her to be African American as well. We first see her show her anger when she is in grade school. She attends