Unnamed Negro Domestics

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Unnamed Negro Domestics
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Unnamed Negro Domestics
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The Negro servants who work for the white population of Jefferson are almost completely invisible in Intruder in the Dust. This is by their own actions: anxious about what might happen after Lucas is arrested for killing a white man, they stop going outside, even to work. But their absence provokes two descriptions of who they are, or at least what they look like, under conventional circumstances. On Sunday morning Chick imagines the "housemaids or cooks in their fresh Sunday aprons" on the porches of their employers' homes (38). On Monday, though "still no Negro had [been] seen," the narrator provides this description of who isn't visible, which subdivides this group by generation and gender: "the young ones with straightened hair and makeup," wearing "tomorrow's clothes from mailorder houses," who don't put on their servants' "caps and aprons until they were inside the white kitchens"; "the older ones in the ankle-length homemade calico and gingham who wore the long plain homemade aprons all the time"; and "the men who should have been mowing the lawns and clipping the hedges" (118-19). It's ironic, perhaps intentionally, that thanks to these descriptions of who isn't there, Intruder provides more information about the larger black population that works in Jefferson's white households than just about any other fiction.