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Fettered Genius offers strategies appropriated from postcolonial theory.
Fettered Genius argues that Brooks's characters, especially the women, achieve "an existential sovereignty," that fosters a self-understanding that resists the racist and sexist definitions imposed by both the dominant society and the black community.
Yet Fettered Genius argues persuasively that he was a profoundly political poet, for whom transcendence became activism.
Given the value of its analyses, the defensive tone of Fettered Genius is regrettable.
In Fettered for Life, Farrell points out, she "aligns herself with a small minority of post-Civil War suffragists, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who saw the dangers for women's progress in emphasizing gender differences.
Yet is Fettered for Life, as Farrell argues, truly "subversive"?
Equally, though very differently, fettered are Laura's lower-class friends Rhoda and Maggie, forced to turn from piece-work to prostitution to survive the mean streets.