Book Review: All God’s Chillun Got Wings and Welded by Eugene O’Neill

Eugene O'NEILL / All God's Chillun Got Wings and Welded First ...

“All God’s Chillun Got Wings and Welded” is a love tragedy about race. Ella, a white girl, marries Jim, a black young man, but the marriage is more traumatizing than it is happy, and eventually, it overwhelms them. If Ella embodies the entanglements of ethnic intermarriage, then Jim more reflects the essence of marriage. Jim is hardworking but kind. Unlike most black people who were resigned to their fate and went with the flow, he has been making efforts to improve his situation and status. But as a descendant of blacks, he was haunted by racial prejudice and discrimination. The powerful external pressure was a constant reminder of his black identity and a heavy burden on him. The harder he tried, the more he felt the intensity of racial prejudice and discrimination, which made him helpless even in the face of good white people. Simply because he had done something that many blacks would not or could not do, he was an outlier in the black and white world. If it was a naive child who drank lime-water as a boy and wanted to whiten his skin to have the same complexion as the girl he liked, it was a grown man who dreamed of going to law school and becoming a lawyer. For this, Jim made a hard effort, but he couldn’t get it. After growing up, most of the young people with the same color of skin were moving forward helplessly along the road of their parents’ life.

Only he was diligent and studied hard. He became one of the few people of his age, making him incompatible with black and white people. Maybe we can blame Jim for not being strong enough, but how can a person fight against the whole society? We can see the huge invisible pressure of society from his repeated failures. On the other hand, his failure was accompanied by care and sacrifice for his sick wife. As a man, he loved Ella, and he loved the innocent playmate of his childhood without regret. In the face of the girl he admired so much, her physical and mental pain made his heart ache. Jim hopes that his love for Ella’s ordeal will help her move on from her past. The past was over, but then Ella fell deeper into the misery of loving her husband but not being able to acknowledge his black identity from the bottom of her heart. All this made her suffer, she did not know what to do, the feelings of love and hate torn her heart. For Jim, Ella is his life, especially when they are ostracized by the whole society, and the husband and wife become a pair of unhappy lovers. For the sake of peace and happiness, they went to a foreign country, and he obeyed his wife, even as brother and sister, whenever she was happy. Instead, they found no peace in foreign lands. Although racial prejudice and discrimination did not exist there, what they heard and saw in their own country left a shadow in their hearts far more cruel and terrible than real life. Her union with her black husband made Ella feel ashamed and she tried everything to hide for peace.

There was nothing Jim could do about it. He loved his wife, but he could not relieve her mental pain. He could only blame himself for everything, even though he had done nothing wrong. Faced with his ailing wife, he felt guilty and could only try his best to take care of her to atone for his sin. Ella became more and more insane, and one more day with her was a greater risk of being killed. Sending her to a nursing home would liberate him, but it would kill her and she would die of shame which is something that Jim, who loved Ella so much, could never do. This is an ordinary man, on the one hand, he can not give up the dream, on the other hand, he is deeply in love with the woman. The woman he had married was sick, and it was the same woman who, fearing his success, had been trying to obstruct him. He must choose between this woman and his dream. In order to love this woman, in order to keep them together, he has to give up his dream completely. There was no hope of equality and harmony, no hope of success that would prove his worth and give his wife pride, and all that remained was a madwoman and a broken-hearted man. God created this world, and he also created human beings who live in it. But God has failed to instill in all men the capacity to accept and love all men. So in this world, no matter how good and how hard our protagonists work, they will face the only failure in the end.

-Coreen C.

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