The Harlem Renaissance Births a Black Culture
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Arna Bontemps’ short story “A Summer Tragedy” (see Lesson Plan III)
“A Summer Tragedy” serves a double purpose because it depicts the dilemma faced by sharecroppers in the South at the turn of the century, and at the same time, it is an excellent story for practicing the Language Arts CAPT activity that asks students to define good literature and then to critique a short story using their definition. This story helps clarify why sharecroppers from the South comprised a large part of the Great Migration to northern cities. In fact, it is appropriate to study Jacob Lawrence’s paintings, The Migration Series, referred to earlier in this curriculum, in conjunction with this story. Of course, the reader does not know until the end of the story that the old, crippled, handicapped couple in “A Summer Tragedy” have made a suicide pact, rather than migration, as their viable means of escape from the ravages of sharecropping and racism in the South.