The Representation of Tricksters in the Works of Charles W. Chesnutt

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Fraud, con-man, and hustler are all modern day terms to describe the age old character in African American literature known as the trickster. Today’s working definition of a trickster is one who swindles or plays tricks; often a mischievous figure in myth or folklore, who typically makes up for physical weakness through cunning and subversive humor. In African American literature the role of the trickster is a reoccurring theme, especially in the time period spanning from post Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance. During slavery and the years that followed the image of a trickster changed from a humorous amoral figure to a cunning and socially conscious icon. Charles W. Chesnutt is a primary example of an author, who faithful employs the…show more content…
Colonel Owens’ intentions were to select a slave his son could bring up north, who had proven to be resistant to abolitionist ideals and the prospect of running away. To Colonel Owens elation, Grandison’s answers not only confirmed his view of a mutually benefits of slavery but went above and beyond to demonstrate a conceivably genuine appreciation of the resources and lifestyle on the plantation. He went on questioned Grandison about the fairness of his treatment and the kindness of his master before promising him a bead necklace for his future wife and deeming him “abolitionist-proof.” Although the interaction described was only a brief portion of the story it proves to be a pivotal moment in the plot and leaves the audience to assume that Grandison is loyal slave with no intention of running away. But, as we later find out, Grandison was not at all ignorant to the ideals of abolitionism and actually aspired to be a free man. He eventually achieves his goal as we see in the very last chapter but not without an unexpected twist Grandison then goes on to successfully deceive his young master, Dick Owens, and forges his loyalty several times during their travels to New York, Boston, and eventually Canada. Throughout the journey, Dick Owens provides the Grandison with a number of opportunities to

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