Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

Emily Sonnett
Mind Map by Emily Sonnett, updated more than 1 year ago
Emily Sonnett
Created by Emily Sonnett almost 5 years ago


This is a mind map of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom the play.

Resource summary

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
1.1 Levee wants his song to be played instead of Ma's arrangment of the song, so she fires him. Levee then has a conversation with Sturdyvant about his songs. He wants him to buy them, but he only offers five dollars.
1.2 Ma Rainey finally shows up with her nephew, Sylvester, Dussie May and an officer. Ma's was in a car accident and the officer wants to put Sylvester under arrest.
1.3 They finally start recording the song and it doe not record so Irvin tries to fix it. When they are fixing it is when the band starts to tell diffenrt stories. This ends with Levee shouting at God and point a knife up.
1.4 The band shows up to the recording stuido and they can no decide if they are going to play Levees song arrangment or Ma Rainey's. They are waiting for her to arrive to start the recording.
1.5 At the end of the play Toledo accidentally steps on Levee's new shoes. Things get heated and Levee stabs Toledo in the back and kills him.
2.1 Levee, Cutler, Slow Drag, and Toledo- All members of the Band. They are the ones telling the stories through out the play. They are apart of the main action and climax at the end of the play. They create the conflict in the play.
2.2 Ma Rainey- Head of the band and singer. She is the "boss" of every one in the play.
2.3 Dussie May and Sylvester- They are more supporting character and do not have much action in the play. Dussie May accompanies Ma Rainey and talks/flirts with Levee. Sylvester Sings the intro to the song.
2.4 Irvin and Sturdyvant- They work at the recording company. Irvin is Ma Rainey's manager.
3.1 The theme of the play would have to be a control or power issue.
3.1.1 Irvin can not control when Ma Rainey shows up to record. He is powerless in this instant.
3.1.2 Ma Rainey can not control what Sturdyvant wants to record. She has no power of what he wants, but usually gets her way.
3.1.3 Levee feels powerless when Sturdyvant does not like his songs and only pays him five dollars for them.
4.1 The language used in the play helps to understand the setting. The characters do not use proper English. They use slang and most of the time are not grmatically correct when they speak.
4.1.1 An example from the text would be when Levee says, "Hell... it ani't my fault. I ani't done nothing!"
4.2 Story telling is used frequently. There is a main dialogue between the characters then it is broken up with stories being told by the band members.
4.2.1 Cutler tells the story of how Slow Drag got his name.
4.2.2 Toledo tells a story about stew and how it relates to black and white and who are the leftovers.
4.2.3 Toledo tells another story about the woman he married. she joined a church and left him for a more Godly man. He relates this to how it was foolish of him.
5.1 Music is a big part of this play. They are playing instuments and singing. Most of the time the music is interupted by a characters action.
5.1.1 The band Starts and stops rehearsing before Ma arrives several times. THey are debating which arrangement to play.
5.1.2 Ma sings her song and it goes like this, "Way down in Alabamy I got a friend they call dancing Sammy Who's crazy about all the latest dances Black Bottom stopming, two babies prancing..."
6.1 Ma Rainey has a fur coat. This spectacle shows that Ma is a performer and makes more money than the other band members.
6.2 The lights in this play go on and off depending on what part of the recording studio the characters are in. This is important because it shows the audience or reader the clear change of scenery.
6.3 When Ma asks for the keys to her car. When they are handed to her it gives a sense that there is actually a car even though it is not on the set.
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