Who is Brer Rabbit?

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kipling2448 | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Brer Rabbit is a fictional character developed by Joel Chandler Harris, a Caucasian writer and journalist from Georgia whose tales of Uncle Remus, a former slave given to the use of fables to convey messages to children, are today considered racist relics of the past. Harris' southern heritage certainly influenced his writing, and the kindly old man at the center of his tales, Uncle Remus, has come to personify the condescending, racist image of African Americans that dominated the American South. The character of Brer Rabbit is, as the name suggests, a rabbit, albeit one with human characteristics, very similar to the more benign figure of Peter Rabbit. Unlike the hapless rabbit of Beatrix Potter's story, though, Brer Rabbit is decidedly more precocious, forever willing to play tricks and outsmart other animals. In addition to the blatantly racist depiction of Uncle Remus, the character of Brer Rabbit was controversial for the extremes to which the bunny would go, including acts universally considered criminal in nature by virtually any standards.

Among Uncle Remus' fables was Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby, which told of the clever rabbit's success in foiling the plans of his nemesis, Brer Fox, to kill him. Brer Rabbit, in typical fashion, outsmarts the fox and enjoys the last laugh. 


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