For this week's blog, I would like for you to reflect on some aspects of August Wilson's "Two Trains Running" that we seem to have missed as a class.  Your initial post should be a thorough discussion of the following questions:

1.  To what extent do the main characters of the play reflect differnt aspects of (a) African-American heritage/culture and (b) the experience of African-Americans during the time period in question?  Please give a detailed discussion of at least two main characters.

2.  How does Hambone function as a symbolic character in the play?  Consider his history, his actions, his phsycial condition, and his ultimate fate. 

I strongly recommend drafting your answer before you post; it is pretty easy for me to tell whose thoughts are simply regurgitations of other people's ideas.  Your initial post is due by 11:59 pm on Thursday, January 19, 2012.  Your comments on two other posts are due by 11:59 pm on Sunday, January 22, 2012.
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  • Ambre Ellison

    The main characters of the play reflect the African American culture and heritage because throughout the play they always came together to connect with the same main economic and social problems. Even though each character in the story has a different past and has branches of different struggles they all either have: lots there jobs, are going to lose there jobs, are concerned with the future of the neighborhood, or just getting fed up with the legal system. Throught African American culture even if problems occur, we always join together to change something or just to survive like the Civil Rights Movement. Since the play is set in Memphis's restuarant, this is the meeting ground for all of their various conversations that reveal traits about them. During the early 1970's alot of bad things happened. Martin Luther King Jr was killed and violent riots occured throughout black neighborhoods, Malcolm X was just killed, Black people everywhere were upset and had enough of discrimination. This reflects Memphis's frustration that his business will be destroyed and Sterling's frustration that he must repeat the saying tha "Black is Beautiful". Sterling has just been released from prison and hasn't seen the outside world in 5 years all he wants is luxurious things, but his economic and social situtaion will not only not let that happen, but will not help him gain any respect from White people.

    1/19/2012 10:51:21 AM
  • Courtney Jones

    I think in Two Trains Running to some extent the main characters reflect the different aspects of African American heritage/culture when Memphis's restaurant was first introduced with the chicken, collard greens, ribs etc showed the culture of what African Americans are most commonly known to eat when cooking. However, the story did not reflect on African Americans' heritage.
    In Two Trains Running the main characters reflect the different aspect of the experience the African Americans during the time period of the 1960s. The charaters showed the economic suffering and the racism that African Americans had to undergo to this time period. However, it was not likely for blacks to have any ownership of anything like West who was the towns undertaker and was pretty much the richest erson ever since Prophet Samuel died and Memphis who had owned his own restaurant.

    Hambone is an African American who contantly repeated the phrase "I want my Ham" over and over because Mr. Lutz promised him that if he do the job right he was going to get a ham but Hambone never did. Hambone is a symbolic character because he symbolizes the economic dificulties that are deprived amongst African Americans like how he didnt receive hia ham until he departed when he received his ham and everything was starting to get better like Memphis getting a lot of money from the government for restaurant to open up an even bigger and better one than before. Hambone function as a symbolic character because he was an African American who had faced hardships like others and the opportunites to come. Hambone was a character that symbolize how African Americans where not receiving the things they needed and was constantly ignored about what he wanted.

    1/19/2012 4:18:24 PM
  • Anthony Sterling

    In Two Trains Running, the charaters represents the African American culture/ heritage, by reflecting on their struggles in society, where discrimination was huge issues and within the black community. Black own businesses were going out of service and blacks struggle to find finnacial success. The character Sterling represents a young African American male, who was raised in harsh conditions as most young males, he couldn't find a job, and was arrested and went to jail for robbing a bank. A more older character Memphis had his own bussiness, a Resturant, and he experienced and seen more issues in the black community. Memphis in the play, is trying to sell his resturant to gain finnacial success, and buy his farm that he owned in Mississsippi, back from a group of whites, that force him to leave it. The character Hambone, who repeats "I want my Ham, I want my Ham, he gonna give me my ham", symbolizes, what he is really advocating for, and no matter how much people try to change his mind, he still continues to repeat the same line in the play. Insight on a deeper meaning, this can connect with blacks and how they should speak up about how they want change in their community and social issues such as discrimination

    1/19/2012 6:43:52 PM
  • Markieta Jo

    The main characters of the play refelct different apects of African-American heritage and culture during the time period of "Two Trains Running." Church and religion are ussually the center of blacks especially in the past which shows Dee commitment to the church and Prophet Samuel's major funeral service. At the restaurant the owner does not like numbers being ran from there unlike his peer he believes more in hardwork than luck of winnning the lottery.

    1/19/2012 6:49:09 PM
  • April Graham

    All of the characters in Two Trains Running have different characteristics. Main characters, such as Risa, cut her legs because of her cultural beliefs. As known, Muslim women cover their bodies, only to be revealed to their husbands, which is similar to what Risa attempted to do. Although the two are not the same, Risa's attempt to get men to look at her differently can be paralleled with muslim women only being seen sexually by their husbands. She was not like many women of her time, because many woman did not go as far as she did to make a statement. Many woman were focused on making a way and a difference nationally, not just for themselves. Memphis, however, did. He represented many African Americans during this time, who were not trying to get fooled, tricked, or cheated by the white man. Many African Americans felt like they deserved better treatment because of what their Ancestors had been through and because of the rights that they had fought so hard for.

    Hambone represents the hardships that people have to face. He lost his wife, who he was with all the time, he did not receive the ham that he believed he deserved from painting the fence, and he was misunderstood by the people around him. The problems he dealt with were not revealed until his death, through the scars on his body but he symbolizes adversities of day to day people.

    1/19/2012 8:51:09 PM
  • Kendra Atchison

    The main characters in Two Trains Running each show African Americans and the culture in many different perspectives. Memphis, who plays an important role. He is characterized as a head strong black man with big goals and a big mouth to go along with it. I believe that August Wilson characterized Memphis this way because of how older black men are portrayed. Typically, they tend to complain more about the society and how younger black men don't have a strong work ethic as their elders. I believe that in African American culture, everyone has a "Memphis" inside of them that always strives for them to be better. Also, Memphis was characterized this way because of the time period that they were in. During the 1960s, when segregation was still present, African Americans all wanted to better themselves. I believe that Memphis character also possesses this quality because of the society. Being in this time only made him want to work harder for himself. Sterling's character also is a stock character in Two Trains Running. He is a young man who is fresh out of prison looking for a job but tends to have his old mentality that got him in prison in the first place. Seen in the African American society frequently, I think that Wilson added Sterling to the cast because it is something that is always seen with African Americans. Many can relate to the young black man trying to find a better life once released from prison. Risa's character also shows how life was like for women during this time. She is very inferior to the men in this play, especially Memphis. I think that her character was mostly characterized because of how society was that time with women being more inferior to men then how they are now. In the present, I believe that black women are stronger since these times. Overall, Wilson used the characters very effectively in showing how African American culture was portrayed in the 1960s and how there has been slight evolvement since then.

    1/19/2012 9:51:37 PM
  • Collecha Newby

    There is a very strong representation of African Americans in August Wilson's play, all of whom represent African Americans from many different walks of life at that time. For example, of such character is Wolf. Wolf was constantly talking about Black power and Black pride. During this time there were several organizations such as the Black Panther Party who emphasized the beauty of colored people. Also Risa is representative of African American women who felt as though they did not have a place in society. Hambone serves as a symbolic character because he represents people in society who are so focused on one thing that they miss out many other opportunities. I think this because Hambone was so focused on getting his ham from Lutz that he never really had any great experiences before he died.

    1/19/2012 10:06:32 PM
  • Katia Phillips

    The main characters reflect aspects of African American heritage and culture by the way the characters talked to one another and lived. African Americans tended to be a tight knit ethnic of people who came together against the Caucasians. Also during that particular period of time, it also reflected how hard it was for African Americans to receive jobs and how hard it was just to maintain living in a low- income area. African Americans also were not getting paid much so the characters portrayed how African Americans had to survive. Hambone represents a symbolic figure in the play because he worked for a Caucasian man and was not paid the ham in which they had agreed on. Hambone did not return for nine years each morning, and afternoon asking for ham because he was more but because he felt as though he has deserved it. He did not want to accept a chicken because chicken to him would taste good but through pride and self- dignity it would taste nasty to him. People yelled at him saying he was not mentally stable but he was by far smarter than any of the other characters in the play. He died ironically after characters begin to know his story and feel sorry for him. He died in his sleep peacefully but still showed the marks on his body which can represent his struggles through his life.

    1/19/2012 10:08:13 PM
  • Markiano

    The main characters in two trains running all represented the African American struggles that their generation had to face, because of segregation and all of the economic downfalls in that time period. Each character had their own Achilles heel that made them to take a step back, when they should have been moving forward. However during the course of the play all of the characters attempt or overcome their struggles to find a better meaning to their lives. The two characters Memphis and Sterling were victims of being affected of the time period. Sterling could not get a job for many reasons and Memphis was constantly on attack by money hounds to cave in to the price of his building. Both characters are prime examples of the economic downfalls and cultural exclusion from every other race Sterling stated he had dreams and many times those dreams were crushed before he could even try. Memphis had a strong will to not be taken for a fool but there were many times, people just told Memphis to give in and accept what the land buyers threw at him. Hambone was a significant character because; he represented the strength of African Americans to fight back against injustice. Although the reason may have seemed small for a lot of people the true meaning behind it was white vs. black and the power of blacks to have a say so and take what they deserve.

    1/19/2012 10:17:42 PM
  • Taylor Middleton

    Two Trains Running was a great play that showed the everyday life of a black community in the late 1960s. The main characters do a stellar job of explaining the African American culture through their dialouge between one another. Also, showing the trials and tribulations that black people went through in this time period is effectively shown. The first main character that does both is Risa. Risa being the only woman in the whole play shows a woman living in a male dominated society. The fact that she is the only African American woman has her character play stick out through the whole play. Risa's character being a waitress in the play shows the role of women being the ones that cooked and cleaned while the men just waited to be served. Although Risa is the woman in the play, she is characterized as an independent woman by her not having a man and etting it be known that she did not need one. The fact that Risa was cut her legs in order to have men not talk her seemed a bit extreme and close to the non realistic side of the play. Risa's character was a prime example of women in the late 1960s seeming inferior to the male and only only needed for service purposes, but really has more of am importance to the play. The next main character that shows the males perspective of a normal African-American's life is Memphis. Memphis is the owner of the restaurant where the setting of the play takes place. He is one of the more elderly characters in the play who thinks he knows the answer to every question asked. When going through a personal problem it seems as if Memphis wants to take his anger out on the other characters which makes his character realistic. The fact Memphis seems to be the advice man just represents how the African-American man sees himself. Memphis also shows that during this time it was hard for a black man to own anything let alone try to get money for what they have due to them just coming from segregation and racism. Hambone functions as a symbolic character that represented standing up for what you know is right.If Hambone would have just accepted the chicken, he would have still been upset for not getting what he deserved which was the ham. The fact that Hambone stood up to another man shows his courage and bravery. Him being a symbolic character sends the message of not letting people push you around and just give you what they want to give rather than giving you what you worked hard for. Hambone represents truth and courage.

    1/19/2012 10:28:14 PM
  • NiaJo

    "Two Trains Running" is a play set in the 1960s, which emphasize the stuggles and consistent economic struggles of african Americans. It also emphasizes on the internal strggles people have with themselves. All of the characters represent something. Although the playwas only centered around the Black community and people at that specific time, it is still a nationwide/worldwide thing to have internal conflict based on your past. In the play, Hambone represents the struggle of getting over his past and his overall problem, which eventually leads him to his death. He was a character that outwardly admitted to being stuck on his past, although he did not directly say it, he used a redundant phrase. I agree with Taylor, however, about the the character Memphis, especially when she says that it is how African American men see themselves.

    1/20/2012 5:02:21 PM
  • Rashad Hartridge

    The characters in Two Trains Running all represent the struggles that African-Americans had to face. Sterling and Memphis are two good examples. Sterling recently came from jail, and is looking to build himself back up. Memphis is running a business, yet it is declining because of economical issues. African-Americans usually have a hard time building themselves back up after they get out of jail. Economical issues were also a problem for African-Americans in the 1960's, which is what Memphis struggles with.

    Hambone can be viewed as the typical old guy that is always complaining about the same issues. His situation is much deeper than this this, as he was promised a ham for his hard work and was granted something less than. This happens to a lot of people, but most of the time people would take what they were given and move on. The fact that Hambone went on about this ham shows that he is not going to settle for second best. He was a guy that worked hard and was not given what he deserved. Hambone also represents the struggle that African-Americans go through on the daily. They were always given the leftovers, or anything less than what was deserved.

    1/20/2012 5:38:03 PM
  • Taylor Middleton

    @Markiano I like the fact that you were able to allude the story back to our Greek Mythology story of Achilles' heel. I concur with your statement due to them having to go through everyday problems with society as well as their internal problems.

    1/20/2012 5:53:44 PM
  • Taylor Middleton

    @Collecha I did not see Ham-bone representing that type of character in the story. This makes me look at Ham-bone a different way but I still have the perception of him standing up for what he thought was right, because had he had accepted the chicken he would have settled for less than he deserved.

    1/20/2012 5:57:22 PM
  • Kendra Atchison

    To April, your comment made me see Risa in a new light. I liked how you paralleled her cutting her legs and covering herself up with women in the Islam society.

    1/22/2012 2:21:10 PM
  • April Graham

    Collecha makes a valid point about Hambone. I did not think about how he spent most of his time trying to get a ham that Lutz was not going to give him. He let life past him by, because he wanted his earnings. This could also show how August Wilson reflected different aspects of African American culture. Hambone is like a slave, he worked hard, and his work was still not good enough to the judge.

    1/22/2012 8:38:43 PM
  • April Graham

    In response to Taylor, Risa playing the typical female role relates to more than just the African American culture, but that is a great observation. I believe Risa's role overall represents the change for women during this period. More women were beginning to get jobs. Risa shows how a woman, like Taylor said, entered into a male dominated society, which is what was happening throughout the 1960's and 1970's.

    1/22/2012 8:56:06 PM
  • Collecha Newby

    @Taylor I understand exactly what you are saying but for me the immediate connection was to people in my community who spend so much time working for something they do not need versus more important things such and traveling and exploring the world and different cultures. @April that was a very insightful reflection. Not only did it explain Risa's situation but it also gave a possible explanation as to why she might be the way she is.

    1/22/2012 9:12:29 PM
  • Courtney

    @Rashad I absolutely agree on your analysis of Hambone being the symbolic character. I had the same analysis when reading TTR

    1/22/2012 10:24:38 PM
  • Courtney

    @ Kendra I like how you tied African American culture to the character Memphis and elaborated on iy As well as, connecting history from Mr. Rohal to strengthen your analysis.

    1/22/2012 10:27:48 PM
  • Anthony Sterling

    @collecha I didn't really see Ham-Bone as a character who was a symbol of black people being too focus on one thing and missing out on opportunities that was a good perspective. !I thought Ham-Bone was someone who represents what blacks should do which is standing up for there rights and what they believe is fair since the story was a time when discrimination was a huge impact.

    @Nia I didn't believe that Ham-Bone represents a national problem of people getting over their past and progressing from their struggles. I believe that it was a good interpretation of the character Hambone and wouldn't ever guess to think about the character like that

    1/23/2012 6:29:15 PM

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