Title: A Soldier’s Play Professor: Wallace Bridges I really enjoyed this play as it kept me wondering what will happen next and taught me some life lessons on how people react or make decisions. As I read on this play goes into the man Sergeant Vernon C. Waters personality and who he really was. We learn that Sergeant Waters hates being black and anyone who may exhibit black characteristics or stereotypes for example. For example in Act Two we learn that Sergeant Waters does not really like C. J. as he frames him and provokes him to attack so that he could be arrested for any reason. Sergeant Waters admits to this is Act Two and wanted C,J. rrested so the world would be free of one more simpleton colored boy. In Sergeant Waters’s eyes he wanted to prepare his men to survive in a white man’s world and by having his men adopt the white man’s culture or characteristics would help them survive. The theme of A Soldier’s Play in my eyes would be racism. If racism exists in a community, then racism will affect the behaviors and ideals of others within the community. Starting with the white soldiers and Sergeant Waters racism is the main source of violence at this army post as the black soldiers are not welcomed at this dominated white community.
Captain Davenport who is assigned to this murder assignment is black and is not welcomed very warmly and they do not want a black captain arresting a white soldier. The murder is first blamed on the Klu Klux Klan and the white officers and soldiers are all aligned against the blacks and as mentioned there is racism within the black community as Sergeant Waters’s turns against C. J. who thought Waters liked him. For example in Act Two we learn that Sergeant Waters has Private James Wilkie plant a gun under C,J’s pillow that could earn three stripes back that he had lost.
This in turn contributes to C. J. getting arrested and eventually killing himself all because of what Sergeant Waters perceived C. J. to be as another black holding other blacks back. It is not said that Sergeant Waters wanted C. J. dead but he wanted him arrested because of his viewpoint of surviving through white characteristics. The protagonist of A Soldier’s play is Captain Davidson who is a black officer. After a black Sergeant is murdered Vernon Waters, Captain Davidson is assigned to solve this murder.
His superobjective is to interview other officers and soldiers, learn about Sergeant Waters, and find out who and why Waters was murdered. In Act One his superobjective begins with Corporal Ellis who is assigned with Davidson to bring the officers or soldiers into questioning and get answers. Davidson asks Ellis of any informal theories of Sergeant Waters’s death and all Ellis has come up with is the Klu Klux Klan is responsible but there are rumors of two white officers. The investigation stalled but they continue to investigate and bring soldiers in for questioning.
Captain Davidson does accomplish his superobjective through investigating and questioning other soldiers. As Davidson questions soldiers he learns more about Sergeant Waters as Waters believed the way to success was the white man’s way. He also learned that Waters was a drunk and abusive towards his own men but did this to mold them into white characteristics. In Act Two when Smalls has gone A-W-O-L Davidson questions him and wants to know why he has gone A-W-O-L and as Davidson questions Smalls he breaks down and admits to watching Peterson shoot Waters as he did nothing to stop it.
One of the Afrocentric Objectives in a Soldier’s play is storytelling when Davidson is speaking with Wilkie. In Act two Wilkie tells Davidson that Waters told him a story involving a colored soldier in France during World War I. Waters told Wilkie that the white soldiers told the women that all the colored soldiers had tails like monkeys. So the white soldiers played a game and paid a black soldier to tape a tail to his behind, they placed the balck soldier on a table with a reed in his hand and a crown on his head.
They called the black soldier moonshine, king of the monkeys. Later on Waters and some other soldiers cut the soldiers throat and none of the other soldiers knew what the black soldier had done wrong. This is where we learn more about Waters and possibly the straw that broke the camel’s back to stand for what he believed in. Waters vowed to eliminate all matter demeaning simpleton behavior from people of his own race. If I were to direct this play I would manipulate the lighting to reinforce the theme of the play.
As stated I believe one of the themes to be racism in this play as there are struggles of racism within the black soldiers as there leader Sergeant Waters believes the only way to success is by adopting the white way. In Act 2 when Wilkie admits to Davidson that Waters had him plant the gun under C. J. ’s pillow so he could earn his stripes back that were taken away and this could lead to C. J. being taken to jail. I would manipulate the lighting here to set the mood and direction of the play which is Waters hates being black and his plan to eliminate simpleton black men.
Waters would get his way by eliminating another simpleton black man and this would show the racism that existed within the blacks because Waters himself hated being black and he took it out on his soldiers. When Charles Fuller wrote this play in 1981 the military was the largest equal opportunity employer for blacks for many years. But historically it was not always this way as blacks fought for freedoms and made sacrifices for nothing because none of this was going to be theirs (land or opportunities in America).
Many blacks viewed World War II as a white man’s war but in the play Sergeant Waters viewed it as a chance for blacks to prosper. This is why he was so hard on his men and wanted them to adapt the white man’s way, but this also affected his and his men’s behavior and ideals. The contemporary significance of the production’s primary theme is racism existed during the plays time and setting but was viewed as a way blacks could try and eliminate racism and slowly but surely be accepted and be honored for their sacrifices they made for a country that they belong to as the white’s.
Today racism still exists but we have made tremendous strides and came a long way to distance ourselves from racism an example is today the military is one of the largest equal opportunity employer for blacks as everyone is recognized as one and they are a family watching each other’s back. Even though strides have been made racism does still exist and it affects behaviors and ideals.
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