Imitation of Life (1934) Poster

Louise Beavers: Delilah Johnson



  • Delilah Johnson : What's my baby want?

    Peola Johnson, Age 19 : I want to be white, like I look.

    Delilah Johnson : Peola!

    Peola Johnson, Age 19 : [gesturing to mirror]  Look at me. Am I not white? Isn't that a white girl?

  • Delilah Johnson : [to Peola]  Bow your head! You got to learn to take it!

  • Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman : Don't you want your own house?

    Delilah Johnson : No. How am I to take care of you and Miss Jessie if I aint here?

  • Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman : I've got Jessie... and you've got Peola.

    Delilah Johnson : Yes'm. I've got Peola, Miss Bea. What am I gonna' do about that poor child? She's so unhappy.

    Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman : You know, Delilah, I've been wondering, if it might be better if you could send Peola to one of those good colleges in the South - for colored people. Where she could finish her education, and where she wouldn't be faced with the problem of "white" all the time. You know what a disaster her schooling has been here.

    Delilah Johnson : Yes'm...

  • Delilah Johnson : Peola won't you be a good child like you can be, darling, and do something for your mammy?

    Peola Johnson, Age 19 : [annoyed]  Oh, don't say "mammy."

    Delilah Johnson : Look here, baby. You go down South, to one of them high-toned colleges, where only the high-toned goes. Wouldn't you do that for me, honey?

    Peola Johnson, Age 19 : [taken aback]  A Negro school?

    Delilah Johnson : Ain't nothin' to be ashamed of, daughter dear. Meet your cross half-way. It won't be near so heavy. Go amongst your own. Quit battlin'! Your little head's sore now from buttin' against stone walls. Open up and say, "Lord, I bows my head." HE made you black, honey. Don't be tellin' Him His business. Accept it, honey. Do that for your mammy, your mother, dear.

    [Peola starts to sob, Delilah hugs her close and starts to sing a spiritual song] 

  • Beatrice 'Bea' Pullman : I've got Jessie - that's enough. Delilah, honestly now, doesn't she look like an angel?

    Delilah Johnson : Why, she *am* an angel, Miss Bea!

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