The Conjure Woman is a novel in the form of a collection of short stories about the New and the Old South. John, the narrator, comes to the New South after the Civil War because of the business opportunities and the healthy climate it offers him and his wife. Land and labor are cheap, and the area is conducive to farming. He buys an old plantation and transforms the unproductive vineyard into a lucrative grape business. John and Annie’s boredom with slow-paced southern life is offset largely by Uncle Julius’s stories of the Old South. As John relates these tales, using Uncle Julius’s dialect, readers become aware of the old former slave’s cleverness and wit.
The collection begins with “The Goophered Grapevine.” Uncle Julius tells the story to prevent John from buying the old plantation. Uncle Julius lives in one of the slave cabins and makes a living selling the grapes that he gathers from the run-down vineyard. After Uncle Julius tells John about the plight of an ex-slave named Henry who mistakenly ate grapes from the “goophered” vines and died when the vines withered, John permits Uncle Julius to continue living on the place and gives him a job.
In telling “Po Sandy,” Uncle Julius’s goal is to prevent the narrator and his wife from tearing down an old schoolhouse on the plantation. John’s wife wants a new kitchen, and John wants to build it with lumber from the schoolhouse. Uncle Julius, who has his own plans...
(The entire section is 595 words.)