What are three main themes of "The Wife of His Youth"? 

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skipperb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Chesnutt's “The Wife of His Youth” recounts the struggle African Americans of mixed blood as they try to become more like white people by adopting their customs.

Yet, after Ryder sees his African-American wife, who has been looking for him for twenty-five years, he abandons his proposal to Ms. Dixon, showing the reader that the honorable path is to keep your word and not abandon those you are loyal to, particularly in marriage.

The reader also learns that it is important to embrace their heritage and not deny it.

This message is even more pertinent today.

Chesnutt's work challenges the White person to recognize inequality, but he leaves it up to the reader to resolve problems of inequality based on the circumstances surrounding it, which contrasts to the attitudes of later African-American activists.