Charles Waddell Chesnutt did not suffer the experience of slavery, but as a young man he experienced the bitter failure of Reconstruction. How does this fact color his stories?
Chesnutt said that he wanted to “elevate” not black Americans but white ones. What does he mean? Identify a story which seems to reflect this ambition particularly well and explain why you think so.
What reasons can you discover for Chesnutt’s decision to call the novel The Marrow of Tradition his best? What does tradition have to do with the novel? Consult dictionary definitions of “marrow” that seem applicable to this work.
One of Chesnutt’s best-known stories, “The Sheriff’s Children,” shocked many readers. If you were to choose one of his stories in an anthology, would you consider this story an essential one? A representative one?
Do the subtleties in Chesnutt’s The Conjure Woman stories cause him to fail in his aim of educating his readers?