Most of the Uncle Remus stories follow a similar formula. They begin with a frame narrative, which typically opens in Uncle Remus’s cabin behind the “big house” as he discusses daily affairs with the young white son of Mars’ John and Miss Sally. Usually something that the boy says reminds Uncle Remus of a story about Brer Rabbit or some other “creeturs.” Once the tale is over, Uncle Remus draws a moral lesson for the boy and sends him to bed. The friendship between Uncle Remus and the young boy is worth noting, because in many ways it is Joel Chandler Harris’s own idealized version of black/white relations. Both Uncle Remus and the boy have a strong love for each other and represent the best qualities of both races—Uncle Remus considers himself superior to the domestic servants, and he tells the boy not to play with the “riff-raff” Favers children, the poor white trash of the area. Yet Uncle Remus is not afraid to discipline the young boy subtly, and he sometimes pretends to withhold a tale because the boy has misbehaved during the day (chucking rocks at chickens, for example). Sometimes, borrowing a trick from Brer Rabbit, he has the boy bring him food from the kitchen as a means of appeasement. Uncle Remus also functions as the boy’s teacher, moving him out of the linear chronology of the present and initiating him into the timeless world of the fables—a lesson the young boy sometimes has trouble understanding.
(The entire section is 2476 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Joel Chandler Harris Critical Essays. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!