In "The Wife of his Youth" what character truly represents the trickster (rabbit) and what character represents the one being tricked (fox)?

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In Chesnutt’s story, "The Wife of his Youth,” the two main characters are Mr. Ryder and Liza Jane. Mr. Ryder is an educated and sophisticated African-American gentleman who has risen among the ranks of his peers to be a prominent figure in the Blue Vein Society. Chesnutt gives little detail...

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In Chesnutt’s story, "The Wife of his Youth,” the two main characters are Mr. Ryder and Liza Jane. Mr. Ryder is an educated and sophisticated African-American gentleman who has risen among the ranks of his peers to be a prominent figure in the Blue Vein Society. Chesnutt gives little detail on his past.  One day, someone appears looking for a man named Sam Taylor—a small, old, poor woman named Liza Jane. She tells Ryder a story of how she has been searching for her husband for many years. By the end of the story, Mr. Ryder recognizes that this is the woman he was married to and makes the decision to reveal this to all of the elite members of the blue vein society.

While there isn’t the level of trickery in this story most commonly associated with trickster stories—where the trickster uses devious means to win and triumph over the person who holds power—there is a similarity in these characters. Mr. Ryder, a man who holds power in this story, might be seen as the fox, while Liza Jane, the powerless, helpless woman, can be seen as the rabbit or trickster. By telling such an elaborate story and emphasizing how she never stopped looking for her husband, she plays on the sympathies of Mr. Ryder. In this way, she convinces him to acknowledge her, an act which result in a much better life for her as his wife in this new position. Therefore, while she is not wily in her actions, she is convincing and so may be seen as the trickster in this situation.

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