The Black Madonna The Black Madonna by Muriel spark is a short story about Racism and religion. It aims to explore the real meanings behind what people say and the actions they do. It deals with happenings that closely reveal people’s reactions to it. Muriel Spark does this through subtle humor by the ironic happenings that take place during the short story. The characters in the short story play a huge role in adding to the dramatic storyline. At first impression the married couple Lou and Raymond seems normal to an extent but under scrutinization the couple’s lifestyle seems forced and exaggerated.
This could add to the fact that they are not comfortable with who they really are individually and as a couple. Because of the constant stress which they endure of not being able to produce a child (Spark 38) mainly because they are Roman Catholics. Apparently, in the short story Roman Catholics are usually expected to have large families. One could say that this notion can support stress in their chosen religion and in their relationship. Although they are content with luxuries they haveacquired due to the absence of them having children.
The couple takes their religion quite seriously and feels displaced if someone strays away and defies the religion. They have expectations that the person would find their way back to the religion. This can be seen with Henry. Who defied the Roman Catholic Church and who is expected by Lou to return back at some point (Spark 40-41). Lou and Raymond strive on inviting guests to their home. These guests are either Roman Catholics or somehow have been connected to the religion. In the text it is not difficult to notice that Lou and Raymond pride themselves on being non- judgmental.
But yet they only invite Roman Catholics not caring of their class, may it be high or low class (Spark 39). In the short story Raymond invites two Jamaicans from his work( Spark 39). Why this should be seen as some kind of event if Lou and Raymond are really non-judgmental. This leads one to think that the couple is hypocrites. The couple covers up themselves under a facade that people of different skin color are equal. As well as deserving of every pleasure that life has to bring. We can see this facade clearly in Lou.
She leads herself as well as her husband to believe that she is not a snob (Spark 39 and 45). While in actual fact she is the most prominent in her facade. This can be substantiated through when she has an encounter with Tina Farrell; a sorter that the derogatory term “darkies” should not be used to refer to black people( Spark 40). Well in the right as that is derogatory and degrading. But later in the short story Lou contradicts herself . Lou losing almost her temper with Henry about his opinion about the mentality of Lou’s sister, Elizabeth.
Lou in her mind questions the authority of Henry being able to voice his opinion. She furthers her soliloquy in her mind and reveals that because Elizabeth is white she can live any lifestyle that suits her but who might Henry be to comment on that lifestyle if he is black ( Spark 44). One is then able at first to think Lou is a “sensible” woman. She loves making all people feel welcome and she mixes with all classes of all people. But their color counts when they have their own opinions or when people are not anyhow connected to their religion. Sensibility implies reasoning and in being in control.
One finds that it may be a struggle to apply these terms to Lou. When Henry is in the process of making his statement about the mentality of certain types of people, one can see Lou’s impatience and complete disregard for what he has to say. This can be substantiated through Lou not giving Henry a chance to have his view raised in completion (Spark 44). As well in the short story a point is reached where Lou is hysterical and close to portraying a lady on the brink of insanity. Raymond, a hypocrite like his wife seems more disgusted in the way people live than in being a concealed racist.
However, Raymond feels just as intensely about religion as his wife does and is compelled to defend his religion. The climax in the short story ultimately reveals the peak of revealing the couple’s actual views on race. When Lou becomes pregnant with what is to be a little black girl, her disgust in herself and in her child is obvious. One could say that the idea if being associated with black people is intriguing to the couple but as being part of their family is not a something which they were going to allow. Her encounter with Tina, the sorter now holds no value.
Lou and Raymond is therefore exactly like Tina. Which is a racist but they do not mind being associated or in the company of black people. References Spark, Muriel. “The black Madonna” Publisher, University of Cape Town press” Publication year: 2010 Page number: 36-51 www. diesterweg. de/lektueren/she_many_voices_of_english/978-3-425-09031-3-Probekapitel,pdf www. enotes. com/blackmadonna. jalen/black www. newsstatesmen. com/200012250052 www. weberburg. de/skool/schwerpunktthema-abitur-one-language-many-voices. html