Thursday, March 11, 2010

One Drop Rule Applied to "Iola Leroy"

In discussing racism in regard to Francis Harper's "Iola Leroy,"the one drop of African American blood rule comes into play. Consider the events in which Iola is forced to confront her African American heritage, and the ways in which she is segregated as a result. As Iola is more white than black in appearance, her status as a black woman in society shows us the power of the one drop rule. Specifically, this rule states that any person with even one drop of African American blood is to be considered African American.

There are several problems which must be confronted in regard to the one drop rule. First, many African Americans, such as Iola Leroy, posses more "white" blood in their bodies than that of African American blood. Yet, the Whites, who hold their blood line to be extremely pure, view one drop of African blood to be so vile. Thus, one may say that the white Americans are contradicting their own disgust with African blood and love for "white" blood. Here, one may see that the real issue behind the racism in "Iola Leroy" is not concerned with blood, but with maintaining illusions. Such illusions may be witnessed as white characters mistakenly assume African American characters to also be "white."


  1. I hadn't ever considered the ramifications of the one drop rule before this class. I knew that 'partially' black people were considered black but I never realized that someone could look white, pass for white, even maybe think themselves to be white for many years and then as soon as they find some African link eight generations back it completely changes the way they see themselves and the way others see them, enough even to reduce them to slavery. Its pretty absurd when you think about it. Humans are composites of so many heritages and characteristics. No one wants to be judged by just one drop.

  2. I'd agree, Seth. The "one drop" classification is clearly an illusion and one that Twain holds up to considerable ridicule.