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The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World


TheDeath of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World




Thedeath of the last black man in the whole world was produced in 1990by Suzan Lori Parks and directed by Lileana Blain Cruz. The playbrings back the memories of a number historical and biblical blackcharacters including satire on the stereotyping of African Americans.The man alluded to as the last man is named the black man with awatermelon who dies multiple times in the course of the play. Thelanguage of the play is reinforced by musical effect since music isone of the unifying factors amongst Africans. It brings out anemotional connection as well as a spiritual force that is commonlyshared. The death of the last black man in the whole world has notbeen set according to the normal American storytelling format.Instead, both the plot and the dialogue of the play use therepetition techniques of jazz as well as the traditional black calland response. The Kuntu principle of music has been represented inthe play with the playwright use of the jazz technique of revisionand repetition. Similar to the other structural linguistic features,the utilisation of musical methods creates a theoretical experiencethat highlights the narrative that death is unique and universal. Theplay was staged and seen in the signature theatre, this is anOff-Broadway theatre located in Manhattan.

Bodyand Content of the paper

Thekey theme in the death of the last black man in the whole entireworld is a plot to erase the African Americans together with theirhistory from the records of the western world. The theme in this playis that each and every culture deals with the mysterious factors ofdying and death. Parks structures the characters and the language ofthe play to bring attention to death as an event. The play, however,does not necessarily focus on the death of an individual as aphysical event but rather on the way that the African Americanindividuals cope with the realities of dying. The composer ultimatelygoes ahead to showcase the response of the community to death to showthe continuation of the community’s cultural life.

Parkincludes broad aspects of history, for instance, the Old Testamentcharacter of Ham as well as the pharaoh of Egypt but this isbasically an American play. According to parks, this is an epicfigure in a sense that of the characters a Black man with watermelonstands as a representation of many others not documented. The deathof Black man with a watermelon represents events that are associatedwith the oppression of the black Americans in the United States ofAmerica. Through lynching, suicides, electrocution and jumping from aslave ship in the middle of a voyage parks explores clearly thetribulations that the African Americans are going through. He workswith other characters to dive into the complexities of AfricanAmerican identity and eventually through revision and repetition thatis core to the form of the play, having things written down wheremoves are made. Parks made a comparison of her play to the CatholicStations of the Cross, where the choruses are representing the gapsbetween the stations.

Rootaction statement

Thescript is about Blackman, who with a watermelon, is resilient, yetbitter and miserable inside because every time he dies and wakes upfrom death, a different course follows as a representation of thedying African American history, when resurrected it fades again, andno one cares to remember, and therefore, it is forgotten like buryingsomething under a rock.


Mostof the performances in the Park’s novels are believable, but theyare full of symbolism. The way they dress up, represent themselves onstage gives a real representation of the black community back in thedays. However, it takes critical thinking and analysis to find outthe messages that characters carry. In this novel, they representmultiple deaths that killed African American victims at that periodthat included suicide, lynching, and electrocution.

Namesof characters:

Protagonist-Black Man with Watermelon (Ham)

Confidant:Black Woman with fried drumstick

Antagonist-Bigger Thomas


Foil:Bigger Thomas


Themost enticing incident is when the Ham in trilby and shades jumps outof the shadows and engages in a monologue around Biblical phrasessuch as “begat and begotten” and equates it to the mother of allthe drum brakes.


Sparksattains emotional climax during the heartbreaking revelation of theWoman with the drumstick engages in deep personal conversation inseparate dimension aching to be remembered. The characters break thenews that the last black man had died after falling 23 floors on thepavement below. They suggest that he had moved his hands when theworld was flat, and refer how he burst into flames because oflaughing out loud.


Amajor crisis occurs when the characters appear onstage. The stage isa representation of a “Black Hole,” in a graveyard, and a manseated still on a chair holding a big watermelon is approached with adrumstick. The figure seated is the black man representing the deathof his race.

Timeand place and how it affects the character’s lives

Thetime of the play way back in the late 19thto early 20th century, at a burial ground, at a time during thedepression era. The troubled Black Man with Watermelon is tried to befed by his significant other with a drumstick which turns out to bejust feathers. This is particularly depressing for both characters,and they suffer “death” from all forms of suffering.