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Racial Relations in Two Short Stories - Literature review Example

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The work "Racial Relations in Two Short Stories" describes the short stories “Po’ Sandy” and "The Wife of His Youth" by Charles Waddell Chestnut. The author outlines their depict tensions in the racial relations at different points of time in Black American history. We have information about the main idea of these stories, features of characters and conflict…
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Racial Relations in Two Short Stories
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Download file to see previous pages When John tries to bring down a building on his grounds to build a kitchen for his wife Anne, Uncle Julius intervenes and tries to stop them from doing it by telling them how Sandy was turned into a tree by Tenie, his wife with conjuring powers, and how the tree was cut into pieces and used to build that structure. The narrator tells that Sandy still haunts the place. While John scoffs at it, Anne believes the story and instead donates the place to Uncle Julius to be used for worship.
” The Wife of His Youth” is about Ryder, a light-skinned mixed-race man, who runs a society for light-skinned bi-racial people in a northern city. He is free and is part of a social class with great opportunities for upward mobility. He prepares to marry a mulatto woman who is much lighter-skinned than him, when a very dark old woman, who comes in search of her husband whom she has not seen for 25 years, turns out to be his wife from his younger days as a slave in the plantations of the South before the Civil War. The story ends abruptly with him acknowledging her as the wife of his youth.
The stories are about racial tensions between and within racial groups in different periods: before and after the Civil War. They describe the plight of their main characters due to their race, color, and social status or class. The role and value of slave marriages and the emotional pain experienced due to separation are other prominent themes in both narratives.
“Po’ Sandy”s outer narrative is set on John’s vineyard and the other main characters are his wife Anne and Uncle Julius, the narrator. John and Anne consider taking wood from an unused broken building on their grounds for a kitchen they are building. It is at this juncture that the inner narrative starts to take shape as Uncle Julius starts telling them about the story of a black slave, whom he calls “poor Sandy”, a hardworking slave of Mars Marrabo McSwayne, and how he is still haunting the old building the couple is contemplating to bring down.
Racial tension is seen in the ‘slave as property’ theme that emerges strongly in the inner narrative. To illustrate, Sandy is treated as a property that he is loaned out between the two children of his owner. His master sells off Sandy’s wife to a speculator for another woman, just like buying and selling a property but in a slave economy. Moreover, this illustrates a forced separation of husband and wife, and how slave marriages are not valued but systematically broken apart, while the white owners’ children are ‘married’. ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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