George Washington Cable

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What are the similarities and differences between Madame John in Cable's "Tite Poulette" and Manuela in Dunbar Nelson's "The Goodness of St. Rocque"?

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In "Tite Poulette," Madame John effectively manipulates the situation to enable Kristian to openly declare his love to and then marry Tite Poulette. Because he is white and she is black (an "octaroon"), such a marriage is illegal in nineteenth-century Louisiana. Madame John first persuades Kristian to think seriously about marrying his beloved and follows up by "proving" that Tite Poulette has "Spanish" or white heritage and so can be declared legally white. Her abilities both to persuade the young lover and to work the legal system show her power.

"The Goodness of Saint Rocque" is also concerned with race and marriage. Although both women are Creole, Manuela is much darker than Claralie, her rival for the affections of Theophilé. To win him over, the Wizened One (a conjurer woman) instructs that she must make an offering to Saint Rocque (or Roch)—as the light, petite woman has done. The woman also recommends Manuela take an extra step, giving her a potent charm to wear on her wrist. These two actions succeed, and despite making her suffer by flirting with others, Theophilé and Manuela are married. She uses the supernatural realm more than mundane practical skills.

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