Regionalism and Local Color Fiction
The story “The Goophered Grapevine” is written by an African American writer Charles Chesnutt in 1887. The story is considered to be extremely well written with a specific dialect of African-Americans in the South. The story beautifully captures the lifestyles of these African Americans before and after the Civil War. Chesnutt in “The Goophered Grapevine” explains the tension between the Afro-Americans and whites of America with respect to their region and color; also pinpoints the similarities and dissimilarities they both shared with each other.
The story depicts the era after ...view middle of the document...
Yankee’s advice did not go right and McAdoo loses the land and Henry. Later McAdoo got killed in a Civil War and John was able to take his land and cultivate grapes from which he earned his living. This story highlights the important events of that era revealing the cruel system of slavery in those days and beliefs of African-Americans living during that period. This was in complete contrast to the beliefs and practices of this northern man, John (Chesnutt, 1887).
The story “The Goophered Grapevine” is the most puzzling literary work done by Chesnutt. On the surface the story depicted an amusing folklore of Atlantic depicting whites and patronizing blacks in a justified manner. But the depth of the story reveals that Chesnutt was primarily concerned with the basic problems of American society, its social issues and racism in particular. The story has multiple layers and more than one perspective. The story can be seen from the ex-slave perspective and also from the white person who hears it. The writer is a pro black who portrays the dehumanizing of the African- Americans in the U.S. Since Chesnutt was not known to be a black from his classic literary writings so his audience perceived him to be white American. The story of “Goophered Grapes” addresses the problem faced by African Americans of slavery racism and miscegenation. The story does not achieve the pro-black work for which it is attributed for (Myers, 2003).
When the story surfaced the magazine a major rift was going on between North and South due to the Civil War. The slavery concept was diminishing at that time in major areas but still, stereotyping blacks was a tradition that still persisted in the society. The time which the story depicts is when blacks were considered a piece of property and could be used as a source of profit any time. Their survival was not integral to anyone and blacks had no standing in the region of South. Since Chesnutt was black and portrayed his own race in such a humiliating manner, this raised many troubles in the readership (Chesnutt, 1887). The contrast that was presented by Uncle Julius further invokes rage among black readers as Chesnutt’s writes in the book:
One end of the log was already occupied by a venerable-looking colored man. He held on his knees a hat full of grapes, over which he was smacking his lips with great gusto, and a pile of grape-skins near him indicated that the performance was no new thing. (Chesnutt, 1887)
This imagery depicted the reality of blacks in the country and the extent to which they were stereotyped to be a second class.
The relationship of Uncle Julius and John indicates the same relationship that Chesnutt and his readers had with each other. The majority readers of Chesnutt were a white sophisticated group of people who were knowledgeable and enjoyed the air of freedom. On the other hand, Chesnutt was an African American who was an indigenous and faced racism and discrimination during his early age. He was...