What elements of realism can be found in the Uncle Remus stories by Joel Chandler Harris?

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lprono | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus stories are usually placed under the category of regional realism or local color (other writers in the group may include Sara Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin and, to some extent, even Mark Twain) as they record the folklore of a particular region and its cultural traditions, emphasizing also realist details in the geographical setting. The Uncle Remus's stories strive to record the folklore of ante-bellum African American, and although their situations are apparently non realistic as they have animals as protagonists, they try to reproduce faithfully African American dialect. In addition, in spite of the animal characters, the stories can be read as a description of the power relations in the South before the American Civil War. Harris's focus on the trickster character of Brer Rabbit seems to point out that although African American slaves are seemingly powerless they have the intelligence to outsmart their oppressors as Brer. On the other hand, Harris's depiction of Uncle Remus has been the center of much critical speculation as the character seems to fall in the stereotyped category of the "contented darky" who recalls with nostalgia the old order of the Souther plantation system and slavery.

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