The paragraph of the novel describing aroused Joanna: "She would be wild then, in the close, breathing halfdark without walls, with her wild hair, each strand of which would seem to come alive like octopus tentacles, and her wild hands and her breathing: “Negro! Negro! Negro!”39 - is the reverse of the cliché which was created by Thomas Jefferson that every black man dreams of having sexual intercourse with a white woman.40 However, it is difficult to say if Joanna would have this kind of needs if this stereotype would not have been made up.
Racial stereotypes act here as perpetual motion. No one have taken seriously the Burch/Brown' words that Christmas murdered Joanna till the moment when he mentions also that Christmas is black. From then on, the chase begins, as the context fits the stereotype mentioned above: “ ‘Nigger?’ the sheriff said. ‘Nigger?’ [...] ‘You better be careful what you are saying, if it is a white man you are talking about,’ the marshal says. ‘I don’t care if he is a murderer or not.’"41
Also, a razor used by Christmas is associated with a stereotype: "When Joe Christmas cuts Joanna Burden's throat with a razor, his story alludes not only to the archetypal weapon of the black murderer in popular fiction (and to the actual 1905 crime in Oxford committed by Nelse Patton, who was subsequently lynched) but also by implication the antebellum several texts as well."42 Using the razor, Christmas assumes the role which Joanna has tried to impose on him. Killing her with a weapon stereotypically associated with black crime, he fulfills her needs in a perverse way.
Racial stereotyping linked to poverty is connected with the Protestants' ethic, identifying the financial success with God's grace. The whole social structure of the South was constructed in order to prevent Afro-Americans' financial emancipation. Underpaid, hard work at the sawmill, performed by Christmas and Burch, is referred to as "negro's job at the mill'' 43and Burch is complaining about "all day slaving like a durn nigger."44 Trying to send Christmas to the " nigger college [...] so they wont charge you anything" Joanna shows him his place. For Joanna, "blackness means poverty"45 and poverty is associated with submissiveness which is connected to subordination. Christmas' attitude triggers aggression in people because at every stage of his life, he refuses to submit to anyone. Starting from the moment when McEachern is trying to force Christmas to obey him, to the day of his coming into Mottstown, where instead of acting like a runaway slave, he is walking the streets "like a white man" - Christmas expresses his disagreement with his position in the social hierarchy.46
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