In "The Wife of His Youth" how is the trickster motif incorporated? Who is the trickster and who is the one being tricked?

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beateach | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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In the “The Wife of His Youth,” the trickster motif is complicated. Charles Waddell Chesnutt uses the trickster motif to make social and political statements. In this story, Mr. Ryder, Dean of the Blue Veins, is dedicated to his upward mobility both politically and socially through his club. He advocates for the rights, education, and acceptance of multi-racial Blacks. He gives a dinner party that holds a surprise for his guests. He tells of the dilemma of a man who has a visit from a woman from his past. She has not kept up with his social station but he realizes her identity as someone very special. He quizzes them on what he should do. Should the man accept her back into his life or move on? Of course, those in attendance answer that the man should acknowledge the woman. Mr. Ryder proceeds to introduce them to a small, black woman who has retained her Southern dialect and position as a cook calling her “the wife of my youth.” Thus, he plays the trickster to his dinner party guests.

On the other hand, one could argue that “wife of his youth” is the trickster who plays the trick by returning to Mr. Ryder on the day of his party. She is a reminder of his past and former station in his life. She arrives teaching him a lesson in loyalty and love.

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