The Goophered Grapvine by, Charles W. Chesnutt

Essay by LilAmyUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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Imagine yourself at the mercy of another human being. You are reliant upon this person for rations and shelter. This person controls your existence in every way possible. You are told when to wake up, what to do, how to do it and when to stop doing it. If you do not cooperate you will be beaten ruthlessly and lose whatever little you already had. This was a horrifying and discouraging period of time for many African Americans. Not being allowed to attend schools or become educated several had to learn on their own, which lead to many African Americans being illiterate. Little or no privileges for the slaves meant more authority for their owners. You must remember these were not people but animals in the eyes of the slave proprietors.

Slavery inspired many African Americans to write different forms of literature to protest race discrimination. Charles W. Chesnutt wanted to change the derogatory language used to describe former slaves by instead representing them as clever and imaginative in his realistic short stories.

I found Chesnutt's work to be fictional yet believable. Chesnutt's use of irony and humor kept me interested while reading, The Goophered Grapvine. I found it rather odd that his work was directed towards a white audience unlike most African American writers. My perception was that all African American writers directed their work towards people with whom they identified. Another form of literature written by Fredrick Douglas is an autobiography called the Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas. One of the most upsetting things I read was that Fredrick didn't know who his father was, only that he was white. Rumors were traveling around that his slave master was actually his father. Not only was he unsure about whom his father was, but he...