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This study employs Realism as an analytical tool to assess the various dimensions
of male absence and single parenthood in Richard Wright‟s Black Boy (1945), Toni
Morrison‟s Beloved (1987) and Lauretta Ngcobo‟s Cross of Gold (1981). This research
is thus a comparative study of male absence and single parenthood in Black writing in
the United States and South Africa. The study posits that the spread of male absence and
single parenthood (female-headed homes) among African Americans and Black South
Africans are not unconnected with the socio-historical events experienced in the United
States and South Africa respectively. Whereas African American men are generally
considered and presented as deliberate deserters due to their inability to handle their
sole provider responsibility, male absence and single parenthood among Black South
Africans largely results from men‟s response to familial needs which usually takes them
to the mines in urban areas as well as other governmental policies basically designed to
blow especially black families into fragments.
1.1 General Introduction
This research examines, from a comparative perspective, the preoccupation,
through the novel genre, of three Black writers: Richard Wright, Toni Morrison and
Lauretta Ngcobo with male absence and single parenthood in Black families. The study
establishes the relationship between male absence and single parenthood from the
perspective of single parenthood or female-headed household as a byproduct of male
absence. The study also shows how the various deployments of male absence and single
parenthood signify an exploration of a typical and universal human experience by the
three writers. The study adopts realism as a theoretical tool to assess the life-like
dimension to the subject matter in the texts under preview.
The terms Blacks or Black people are used in systems of racial classification for
United States and South Africa, the racial classification also refers to people with all
possible kinds of skin pigmentation from the darkest through to the very light skin
colours, including albinos, if they are believed by others to have African ancestry and
exhibit cultural traits associated with being ―African-American‖ (Westminster, 2011).
The people of African and West Indian origin, with dark skin are equally classified under
similar umbrella words – Blacks or Black people (Kankan, 2009).
Although there is scarcely any uniform conclusion on the definition, nature and
scope of Black writing, this study holds that among other African writing, African-
American and Black South African literature connotes Black writing which reflects Black
experience in its entirety. Like other issues featured in Black writings, the exploration of
male absence and single parenthood is contingent upon those socio-historical processes
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