Mrs. Magnatech No More

Cathy Whitaker seems to lead the quintessential life of a 1950’s housewife with her maid, Mrs. Magnatech title, her two children and successful businessman husband, Frank.  Cathy is depicted as a”happy go lucky” mother to her husband, even when she discovers his homosexuality.  Although Frank lashes out at Cathy, constantly yelling at her and eventually slapping her in the face, Cathy still manages to maintain her composure and refer to Frank as “darling”.  During this time period woman, such as Cathy, were the property of their husbands.  They had no bank accounts, no domestic laws to protect them and much more.  This meant lack of personal freedom.

On the exterior Cathy might seem like she has her whole life together, however on the inside she is yearning to find authenticity. As Cathy meets her black gardner Raymond and discovers more about him, the greater her desire to find herself becomes.  When Raymond and Cathy go to the restaurant in their town of Hartford Connecticut, Raymond states, “This is a very welcoming place.” Ironically, both the white woman in the car judges the interracial friends as well as the black workers in the restaurant.  This shows that the level of openness in both black and white communities was limited.

As the rumors about the two fly around town, Cathy loses her closest friend, husband and new friend Raymond.  Although Cathy was able to stand up for herself  when on the phone with Frank by saying “You could never remember my car pool days,” it lasted for only a brief period of time.  Frank continues on with his life with a man and Raymond is able to escape from Hartford to Baltimore. Yet Cathy still remains boxed in a community filled with the closed-minded upper class.

“We are willing to let the dead past bury its dead; but we ask you now for our RIGHTS…”

Henry MacNeal Turner was a former slave who escaped from a Southern plantation as a young adult, teaching himself to read and write. In 1868, Turner spoke with the Georgia House of Representatives.

“The great question, sir is this: Am I a man? If I am such, I claim the rights of a man…Why, sir though we are not white, we have accomplished much.  We have pioneered civilization here; we have built up your country; … And what do we ask of you in return? Do we ask you for compensation for the sweat our fathers bore for you- for the tears you have caused, and the hearts you have broken, and the lives you have curtailed, and the blood you have spilled? Do we ask retaliation? We ask it not. We are willing to let the dead past bury its dead; but we ask you now for our RIGHTS…” pg 201

Merely two years after the legislation of the 13th Amendment, Turner is trying to advocate for social, political, and economic passive rebellion through the unity of the newly freed slaves.  He is demanding for the rights that the blacks have been promised.  He is willing to leave the cruel actions of the “Anglo-Saxon race” in the past, certainly not willing to forget them, rather move on into a more productive world for the black race.  Turner, as a former slave, is not submitting into the actions of the government, he is fighting for the civil rights that were promised to the newly emancipated slaves.   Rebuttal toward the Emancipation was viewed in two separate ways.  Black activist Booker T. Washington believed that the blacks should not agitate for social change, they should allow education to guide them toward more trade related jobs and equality will soon ensue after.  Whereas W.E.B. Du Bois believed that pushing for equality and civil rights of blacks will be more successful.  Turner’s main point is to show that without the blacks America would not be same, therefore they should receive the same liberties as a white man. Although most slaves tried not to succumb to slavery, when they were granted equality, freedom did not exist.