The Hughes play begins in the big house on a Georgia plantation, a setting that does not change throughout the play.
The plays have a variety of characters such as Colonel Thomas Norwood and white plantation owner who is the father of Cora Lewis four living mulatto children he is a widower and have a quite of a temper, however he treat the mulatto better than most plantation owners that treat their African American workers, and then we have Cora Lewis which is the black housekeeper and mistress of Colonel Tom Norwood, which she have four kids by, which is basically the peacemaker of the house which is kind of hard for her because she have to put her own feeling on the side, and does everything for her kids.
Now we have William Lewis which is the oldest mulatto son, William really do not have any ambition to be anything more than a field hand. William has his own family and want nothing less, but to have his family live out a random okay life. Then we have Robert Lewis which is the youngest mulatto son of Cora and Colonel, Robert is the one that start a lot of conflicts in the family, to lead to the big events.
Sallie Lewis is the seventeen-year-old mulatto daughter of Cora Lewis and Colonel Norwood, she is light skin and get be perceive as being white, Sallie however want to be a teacher, but Norwood wants her to be a cook, however the mother, and Sallie lied to Norwood and told him that she was going to cooking school. Mr. Fred Higgins is a local politician he is the friend of Colonel Norwood and he believes in the racial superiority of whites. Fred has a negative analysis of the Cora and Norwood relationship and is always criticizing their relationship.
Last but not least, we have Sam which is Colonel personal servant, who believes in going with the status quo. The Mulatto begins in a big house in a Georgia plantation that Colonel Thomas Norwood own which is the white plantation owner, and in Act 1 Sallie Lewis is going to school to become a teacher, however Colonel thinks she is going to school to become a cook and a sewer. Robert Lewis was supposed to pick up his sister to take her to the train, however he didn’t he went into town to get some radio tubes (read this).
This is frustrating Colonel Thomas that Sallie has not left to go to the train for school. Colonel Thomas go to Sam which is his personal African American servant and went to him to let out his feeling about Robert and his behavior. Roberts then return to town and picks up his sister to take to the train. While Robert and his sister were leaving, Colonel Friend Fred Higgins come and warns Colonel that Robert is causing a lot of problems in town. Robert went to pick up his package of radio tubes, but they were destroyed in the mail and the post office refused to return his money.
Therefore, Robert argued with the white women behind the counter, the mail clerk threw him out. Higgins believes that Robert will rile up the other African American to think they are the same or better than the white people. Then he starts a conversation about Colonel marrying a white woman instead of sleeping with Cora. Higgins believes that this would be more socially acceptable and that would help him to keep the black people more in check. Higgins and Higgins are walking to the field and on his ways he states to Cora that he wants to talk to Robert.
Then that’s when Billy Williams son ask a question asking is Colonel their white grandpa, and Williams says that Robert has been broadcasting the fact that Cora’s children are Norwood. Then Cora and William discuss the first time that Norwood beat Robert, when Robert called him papa in front of a white important white group. They were stating that Robert is going to get the African American in a lot of trouble if he doesn’t stop acting the way he acts. Robert returns home calling himself Mr. Norwood; however he drops his act when he sees his mother crying over the distress he has put his mother through.
Robert staring saying that he is half white and black and that he will act his white side sometimes. That’s when Robert and William get into a fight and Cora goes in to break it up, and send William in the kitchen, so that she can talk to Robert. Cora explains that she is scared that his behavior is going to hurt them all at the end, and that she is concern when she hears about Robert behavior at the post office in the morning. Cora tells him to be respectful to Norwood when he return and act like an African American man that he is. Robert states that he will not work in the cotton fields, and Cora notes that they all have to do it.
Norwood enters the house and Cora told Robert to exit from the back but he did the opposite and ran into Norwood, and Norwood was startled and pulled out his pistol, however did not use it because of nerves. This sums up Act 1. Now Act 2, Scene 1 begins with Colonel request to see Robert, and Cora tells her son to agree with everything that Colonel request. Robert does agree along as Colonel does not hit him. Colonel asks Robert why he is starting a lot of problems in town, but before he answers he want Robert to talk to him as an African American. Robert states that he is Colonel Son and Colonel states that he has no father.
Colonel tells Robert to leave the plantation, and when Robert refuses, Colonel pulls out his pistols, Robert disarms Colonel and chokes him to death. Cora hears all the rumbling and come upstairs to find Colonel dead, and while she seeing that Robert is running with the pistol. There were two white men outside coming to see Colonel and when they found him dead they went for Robert by calling the sheriff and the mob; however Cora is talking to Colonel as if he was alive, and that when she starts to hallucinate, she starts to criticize him Colonel saying that they need to help their son.
Cora start believes that Colonel is faking, and that he is not really lying there, he is chasing Robert. Then Cora goes upstairs to make a hiding spot for Robert under the bed. This sums up Act 2 scene 1. Finally in Act 2, Scene 2 and hour later after everything just happen Sam and the undertaker discuss Robert fate and the fact that there are only African American left on Colonel Plantation now. They then discover that Cora insane when they were going out for alcohol she states that she only take orders from Colonel.
William leave trying to get his mom to go, but she wouldn’t leave. William was frightened that his mother was going crazy. Roberts runs in while the white mobs are after him and he has one bullet left and he uses that bullet to kill his self. That was the end of the play. The character that changes in the play is the mother Cora, at first she wanted to be the protector, the peace-maker, and a great mom. Cora didn’t want to see anything happen to her children. Then towards the end it like she just went insane.
Cora was trying to do everything right and didn’t express the true feeling that she really is having and releasing them instead of holding on them. Cora went insane when Colonel died, and started talking to herself; talking to the dead body stating that they should go get Robert, then begin thinking that Colonel was outside chasing Robert, even though the body was just staying there. Cora changed from a strong, upbeat mother and mistress, to an insane person.