Essay on Racism Is the Norm in “The Wife of his Youth”

794 WordsApr 13, 20134 Pages
Arniecia Sutton Professor Hill American Literature 22 February 2013 Racism Is the Norm in “The Wife of his Youth” Charles Chesnutt uses real life scenarios to illustrate the meaning of his stories. He also was a socially conscious writer who addressed racial issues that shaped the cultural climate of his time. Chestnutt, as a writer, successfully passed as a white author for most of his career, which allowed him access unavailable to his identifiable black counterparts. Suprisingly, most of his work focused on black experiences during Reconstruction, but specifically “The Wife Of His Youth” captured much about the issues plaguing his society at the time through the racial theme and realism style of writing he incorporated. The…show more content…
Ryder, the protagonist, reconnected with his wife, a much older dark skinned woman, after they had been separated for over twenty years. He felt that he had to ask the people of the Blue Vein Society if he should acknowledge this woman as his official spouse instead of doing what he wanted without asking for approval. The people in this story gave the realities of what mixed raced individuals had to go through in an effort to have a place in society. The realism in this story is illustrated by the protagonist in this story, Mr. Ryder; this man could very well represent Chesnutt himself because both men were mixed raced, sophisticated, and well-respected by their peers. This story did not focus a lot on the layout of the story but it centered on the outcome of the protagonist. It is through Mr. Ryder, also a member of the Blue Vein Society, that the readers received his viewpoint of race relations between the lighter and darker skinned blacks when he said: “I have no race prejudice,” he would say, “but we people of mixed blood are ground between the upper and the nether millstone. Our fate lies between absorption by the white race and extinction in the black. The one doesn’t want us yet, but may take us in time. The other would welcome us but it would be for us a backward step" (467). I think that Mr. Ryder was a representation of how Chesnutt viewed society because Chesnutt may have used lighter complexion to fool the masses into thinking he was
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