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Creating Space: The Dramatic Use of Lies in Dutchman

            Amiri Baraka's play Dutchman uses a dramatic interplay between the two lead characters, Lula and Clay, to grab the attention of the audience and to allow more focus to be placed on complex societal issues. The audacity of Lula's comments and her overt sexuality function to make audience attentive to her remarks and allow a larger societal image to materialize from her character. Clay's character combats the societal norm of the African-American man of the 1960's in responding to Lula's aggressive comments in a calm and polite manner, keeping the audience involved in his portrayal of the polite and politically correct black man. The audience becomes sensitive to Lula's attack on Clay and eagerly waits to hear his rebuttal. The dramatic effect of Lula's lies in the form of offensive assumptions and name-calling combined with Clay's passivity towards Lula's remarks function to make the audience think about society's misconceptions about race and gender. .
             The lies that the character of Lula creates are of such a wide variety from the merely absurd to amazingly ridiculous that the audience is continually engaged. After capturing the attention of the audience, the lies can become more than just dramatic and achieve their function of making the audience consider the underlying misconceptions of race and gender that the play addresses. We begin to know Lula through her vivid personality and the ability of her comments to swing back and forth from playful to inappropriate. Lula's character mixes sane and insane, and that makes it possible for her character to get the audience's attention with just one remark. In her introduction to Clay she states, "I lie a lot. It helps me to control the world." This is a classic example of how Baraka uses dramatic lies to bring more serious issues to light. The first sentence "I lie a lot," due to its blatant confession, immediately demands the attention of the audience.

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