"The Goophered Grapevine" is a short story written by African American writer Charles W. Chesnutt. The story was published in Atlantic Monthly in 1887.
In the story, Chesnutt described the plantation life in the South, particularly Patesville, North Carolina. The story was set in the post-Civil War era. The grape plantation that the narrator found was said to be "goophered," or bewitched.
During the time of slavery, the plantation was a thriving agricultural business. However, after the Civil War, the plantation became barren and the plants began to die.
There had been a vineyard of some extent on the place, but it had not been attended to since the war and had fallen into utter neglect.
The "death" of the plantation symbolized the end of slavery. Since many plantations depended on slaves to maintain and pick their crops, the Civil War caused many plantation owners to leave their estates behind.
According to the recollections of Uncle Julius—the caretaker of the plantation—the plantation had many slaves during the pre-Civil War era. The slaves and the owner, McAdoo, had a tense dynamic at times but were harmonious for the most part. The tension between Mr. McAdoo and the slaves stemmed from the fact that the slaves would eat the grapes being cultivated on the plantation.
The slaves were a religious group and believed in superstitions. They also consulted with practitioners of magic, such as Aunt Peggy. This culture of superstition is rooted in West African culture.
Many of the slaves brought to the United States came from West African countries that practiced voodoo, or vodun. However, many slaves were also Sunni Muslim because parts of present-day Nigeria and Senegal were conquered by the Moors from North Africa and the Middle East before the Atlantic slave trade.
Due to these religious backgrounds, the slaves brought various superstitions to the Americas.
Socioeconomically, the slaves were naturally impoverished due to lack of education and the oppressive effects of slavery. They lived in cabins and shacks within the plantation.