(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

“The Goophered Grapevine” is a story within a story in which each story is told by a different narrator. The first story has a nameless narrator, a vintner who lives in the Great Lakes area during the post-Civil War era. His wife’s ill health forces him to move to a warmer climate, so he selects Patesville, North Carolina, as the place to continue his career. He purchases a plantation that formerly belonged to a wealthy planter named McAdoo. One day he takes his wife to see the plantation, and it is at this point that the second story commences.

At the plantation, they encounter an old former slave, who introduces himself as Uncle Julius and informs them, in a strong dialect, that the vineyard on the plantation is “goophered,” that is, bewitched. He tells them how the vineyard was goophered during the days of slavery, when old Mr. McAdoo’s grapes were being eaten constantly by the slaves from miles around. Despite the best efforts of Mr. McAdoo and his overseer, no one was ever caught. In his desperation, McAdoo appealed to a free black conjure woman, Aunt Peggy, to help him out. Aunt Peggy was renowned far and wide for her ability to conjure, that is, to work magic. After she went into the grapevines and goophered them, she let all the slaves know that any slave who ate grapes from that vineyard would be dead within twelve months.

Shortly after this took place, a new slave by the name of Henry was bought to work on the plantation. No one told...

(The entire section is 606 words.)