Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

Choose one (1) of the following questions and write a well organized and developed analytical response (about 750 words). Please support your response with documented quotes from the play. Please submit your response to the appropriate assignment box on, generate an Originality Report (be sure that your Similarity Index is 10% or less), and then post your response to the appropriate FORUM under DISCUSSIONS for this assignment. Please make sure that your response is well organized, developed, edited, and supported by documented references to the text of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (No text language):

Sometimes the plot (orderly arrangement of incidents in a play) is advanced through conflict (“to fight or contend; do battle; to come into collision or disagreement; be contradictory, at variance, or in opposition; clash”) ( In the play Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, there is conflict—conflict between Ma Rainey and Irvin, Ma Rainey and Sturdyvant, Ma Rainey and Levee, Levee and Sturdyvant, Levee and Toledo, etc. What are the outcomes of these confrontations? (Include at least three outcomes in your analysis.) Do these confrontations advance the play’s plot? Do these confrontations advance character development? Character learning? Character change?

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Please write a detailed character analysis of Levee. Who is he? What details do we know about Levee? What are his intentions when he comes to the recording session? Does Levee evolve and change during the course of the play? Please explain.

What is the role of Sylvester in the context of the play? Please explain.

What does the confrontation between Sturdyvant and Levee reveal about the position of Black artists in America’s recording industry in the 1920s? Please explain.

e. Joan Herrington, in i ain’t sorry for nothin’ i done, argues that although critics have found problems with the play’s ‘‘bifurcated focus’’ on white men and black men, ‘‘[a]udiences seem to have found the bifurcation an apt and powerful metaphor for the inequities of the segregated world Wilson was portraying.’’ Do you agree or disagree with Herrington’s statement? Please explain.

Name and explain what you believe is the most important theme in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom? How is this theme identified in the play? Please be specific in your response.
Create your own detailed probing question on some aspect of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (which I have not included), state your question, respond to it, and support your analytical response with documented quotations from the text of the play.

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