Who were the "Blue Veins" in "The Wife of His Youth" and what was their purpose?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Charles W. Chestnutt's story "The Wife of His Youth ," the Blue Veins were people of color who had joined together to form a social club in an unnamed Northern city a few years after the Civil War. The club had an official name, but most people inside and outside its membership called the club "The Blue Vein Society" and people who belonged to the group "Blue Veins." The group was controversial within the black community in this city. The nickname had originally been given as a pejorative; someone who didn't belong to the club made the satirical charge that one had to have skin light enough to be able to see "blue veins" in order to be accepted into the group. While this was not technically true, those who belonged to the group, "by accident, combined perhaps with some natural affinity," tended to have more white ancestry than black. A large majority of the group had been freeborn; only a few former slaves were part of the society. This exclusive nature of the social club caused...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 577 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team