An Analysis of Henry Gates Jr. and “the Signifying Monkey”

Topics: African American, African American culture, Yoruba religion Pages: 4 (1493 words) Published: October 6, 2012
Midterm Essay

An Analysis of Henry Gates Jr. and “The Signifying Monkey” It is certain that when you are exposed to an author’s work you want to categorize that author into a certain group. Perhaps this practice of categorizing a composer can help the reader understand the piece of literature. Henry Gates has helped understand and criticize many African American Literature authors that are exposed through the canon in secondary English Education. As a teacher, it is essential to introduce Postcolonialism into the classroom as well as postcolonialist critics such as Henry Gates Jr. Furthermore, as I teach my African American literature class I have found myself searching for supplemental material to suppose the authors that I introduce in the class. The Signifying Monkey has certainly made valid and original points that I would be inclined to bring in my class room. Many may agree that Gates’ work is a multilayered approach and includes many open ended questions through the profound ideals that are presented. Furthermore, Gates presents very abstract and advance ideas for the time that his book was published. I found his work to be astounding although very challenging to wade through in one sitting. Postcolonialism is a continuation of ideologies that led to the breakdown of direct imperial rule by Europe and the US. “Afro- American culture is an African culture with a difference as signified by the catalysts of English, Dutch, French, Portuguese or Spanish languages and cultures, which informed the precise structures that each discrete New World Pan African culture assumed”(Gates 4). It is easy to states that many of Gates ideas may come across as if he is a deconstructionist One may ask; Is it an accident that the black English word signifying is also a common term in the vocabulary of deconstruction? Perhaps it is the subject of the signifier may be the same, but what is actually signified by it differs with each use. This can get confusing, because it...
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