Analysis of the play “Florence” by Alice Childress Essay
Analysis of the play “Florence” by Alice Childress
This 1950 play by Alice Childress takes place in a train station waiting room in a very small town in the south. The play describes how Miss Whitney, an old black woman, discovers that her premonition of the success of her daughter, Florence, as a black actress is undesirably similar to that of a racist, white society. This troubling discovery has just as strong an impact on the reader as it does on Miss Whitney. This drama teaches the reader how the views and opinions of individuals or groups can influence other individuals or groups, although their views and opinions may be opposite, to approach situations with the same reaction.
Marge, Miss Whitney’s other daughter, first introduces this frame of mind to as she accompanies Miss Whitney at the train station. They sit in the “colored” section of the train station while Miss Whitney awaits a train to Harlem to convince Florence to come back home to the south. Florence fled to Harlem with ambition of being an actress. After she calls home to ask for money, Marge is convinced that Florence will fail because she is a black woman attempting to make it in a business dominated by whites in a racially segregated society. Although Miss Whitney seems to have a little bit more faith in Florence, she still wants convince Florence to come back home.
They even have a check ready to pay for her trip home, which is causing them to be late on their rent. This reveals to us that they are willing to sacrifice a little in order to prevent Florence from possibly failing in her quest for success. As Marge speaks to Her mother she reveals her mentality in regards to Florence’s situation, “She ain’t gonna get rich up there and we can’t afford to do for her. She got notions a Negro woman don’t need. She must think she’s white!” (Childress. 1320) Her mother expresses a bit more faith responding, “Maybe we shoulda just sent her the money this time. This one time.” (Childress. 1320)
As Marge leaves the station we are introduced to Mr. Brown, an old black porter. As Mr. Brown speaks with Miss Whitney we find out that his son and brother are both attending different colleges. This makes it known to the reader that Miss Whitney feels it “takes an awful lot of goin’ to school to be anything.” (Childress.1322) Mr. Brown also informs Miss Whitney that his brother saw Florence in a movie. This excites Miss Whitney only for a second as she proceeds to ask Mr. Brown about his brother’s aspirations, as if it were more interesting. The conversation is short due to the entrance of Mrs. Carter.