Charles Chesnutt’s “The Passing of Grandison” Essay

Charles Chesnutt’s “The Passing of Grandison” Essay

Length: 1250 words (3.6 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Charles Chesnutt’s “The Passing of Grandison” is a satirical short story about southern plantation life in the early 1850s. Dick Owens, the spoiled first-born son of a rich Kentucky slaveholder named Colonel Owens wants to impress a young woman named Charity Lomax enough to get her to marry him. To do so, Dick decides to secretly free one of his father’s slaves. With his father’s permission, Dick travels North with one of the slaves named Grandison. He does not tell anyone that he intends to leave Grandison behind in a free state. Although Grandison has no intention of escaping, claiming to love his life as a slave, Dick manages to leave him in Canada. Dick returns home and marries Charity Lomax, having mildly impressed her with his act. A few weeks later, Grandison returns to the plantation, telling the story of his perilous journey home. Colonel Owens fawns over his lost slave and rewards him with tobacco and whiskey. A few weeks later, however, Grandison and all his family escape to freedom. In this story, Chesnutt changes the reader’s initial perception of Grandison and pokes fun at the concept of plantation life and the attitudes of slaveholders, all while commenting on relevant topics to the time period.
Throughout the story, Grandison seems like a devoted slave who loves his master and the security and protection he provides. He tells Colonel Owens, “You is de bes’ marster any nigger ever had in dis worl” (Chesnutt, 617). Additionally, Grandison shows no outward interest in escaping despite the numerous opportunities Dick gives him. He tells Dick that the free blacks in the North, “’lows dey’re free, but dey ain’ got sense ‘nuff ter know dey ain’ half as well off as dey would be down Souf, whar dey’d be ‘preciated” (C...


... middle of paper ...


...e story. He shows that slaves are smart and rational people too. Chesnutt pokes fun at the long-held attitudes of slaveholders and plantation life. He uses Grandison as over-the-top sarcasm how slave masters treat their slaves. Finally, Chesnutt comments on social issues in a comical way – making the topics easier to handle, yet still pertinent.



















Works Cited
"Charity, n.". OED Online. December 2011. Oxford University Press. 29 January 2012 .
Chesnutt, Charles. "The Passing of Grandison." The Norton Anthology of African American Literature. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2004. 613-24. Print.
"Compromise of 1850 and the Fugitive Slave Act. “Africans in America. PBS Online, 1998. Web. 29 Jan 2012. .

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Trickster Figure in Charles Chesnutt's The Passing of Grandison Essays

- “The Passing of Grandison” debunks the stereotypical image of a slave in the 19th Century. The author Charles Chesnutt uses his personal background and ability to pass himself as a white man to tell a very compelling story. Grandison was more than an uneducated farm hand doing his masters bidding. “The Passing of Grandison” provides evidence that while the society of the time thought of slaves as nothing more than property to be bought and abused, slaves could be much more than what was on the surface....   [tags: 19th Century Slave, Character Analysis]

Strong Essays
2747 words (7.8 pages)

Essay on Review Of ' The Passing Of Grandison '

- ... When Dick told Grandison that they were in Canada grandison looked uneasy, as if he didn’t care too much about it, just like the other times he proved his master wrong. Grandison paid very close attention to the details his master was stating to him. Dick could not tell that grandison paid that close attention. Dick was too caught up with trying to get Grandison to run away or commit wrong doing, he was telling Grandison information he didn’t think he was interpreting. Grandson’s second trait is the strongest of the three traits presented....   [tags: Slavery in the United States, American Civil War]

Strong Essays
827 words (2.4 pages)

Essay about Charles Wadell Chesnutt And The Civil War

- Charles Wadell Chesnutt was one of the first African Americans to receive serious and popular attention from the predominantly white literary establishment and audience of his day. He was one of the initial African American writers to be published by a major American magazine and publishing company. His literature was written during a time when the social and economic hopes elevated by emancipation, and the Civil War were debauched as white supremacy was reaffirmed in the South and blacks were committed to a second class citizenship....   [tags: Black people, African American, Racism, Race]

Strong Essays
961 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on The House Behind the Cedars by Charles Chesnutt

- Tryon’s Transformation Norman Vincent Peal once remarked: when a person changes their thoughts, they change their world. Unfortunately, too many individuals do not want to make that change. Human nature causes one to stick to what he knows, to be cautious and remain within his own boundaries. Some people, however, accept differences and embrace change; they may not know what to expect but they are ready to change. In The House Behind the Cedars, Charles Chesnutt writes of George Tryon, who is able to take such a step....   [tags: House Behind Cedars Charles Chesnutt]

Free Essays
1376 words (3.9 pages)

The Goophered Grapevine By Charles Chesnutt Essay

- ... The language barrier between these characters is considerably sizable, although for the most part the couple is able to keep up with Julius’ extensive story. For the majority of Chesnutt’s work, Julius is telling a story and half of his words are complete gibberish. One can safely presume that the educational opportunities Julius was presented with were slim to none when he was younger. While John on the other hand, was a business owner, who without a doubt must have had a reasonable amount of schooling in his day, otherwise he would not know the ins and outs of running a business....   [tags: Race, Racism, Slavery, Black people]

Strong Essays
761 words (2.2 pages)

Charles W. Chesnutt Essay

- Charles W. Chesnutt Though born in Cleveland in 1858, the grandson of a white man and the son of free blacks, Charles W. Chesnutt grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina where his family, having left the South originally in 1856, returned after the Civil War. Chesnutt who had little formal education taught himself and also received tutoring from family members. Chesnutt is known as one of the great American novelist and short-story writers of the late 19th century. Chesnutt lived most of his childhood in Fayetteville, NC where he worked part time in a family grocery store and attended a school founded by the Freedmen's Bureau....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
949 words (2.7 pages)

The Marrow of Tradition, by Charles W. Chesnutt Essay example

- Throughout the history of the United States of America, the country has always been divided by race. No matter the century or decade, there has always been an issue present dealing with this problem in some shape or form. Though the value system of the United States has always been based on equal rights for all, there have always been those individuals that cannot except that all men are created equal. There is no supreme race. Everyone is entitled to his or her natural rights given at birth. Every person should have the same opportunity as the other as long as they are willing to work for what they receive....   [tags: Racial Division, History]

Strong Essays
845 words (2.4 pages)

Essay about Charles Chestnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition

- Charles Chestnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition Based on historical events, Charles Chestnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition, gives human details to produce a vivid picture of life in the south after the failure of reconstruction. His work has many underlying themes among which are the use of the press to stir already volatile emotions through propaganda, class structure not only along color lines but within races, and the effects of the white supremacists’ agenda on the integrity of those who claimed to be morally advanced....   [tags: Marrow Tradition Chestnutt Essays]

Strong Essays
1182 words (3.4 pages)

Charles W. Chestnutt's The Marrow of Tradition Essay examples

- Charles W. Chestnutt's The Marrow of Tradition         Clearly, one can expect differing critical views of a novel; from the       author's perspective we see one view, from a publisher's another, and from       the reviewer's yet another. This is especially true of Charles W.       Chesnutt's  The Marrow of Tradition. If one observes both the contemporary       reviews of the novel and letters exchanged between Chesnutt and his       friends and publisher, Houghton, Mifflin, and Co., one will see the       disparity in opinions regarding the work....   [tags: Chestnutt Marrow of Tradition Essays]

Strong Essays
826 words (2.4 pages)

Essay about The Character Message in The Conjure Tales of Charles W. Chesnutt

- Going back over the Goophered Grapevine and Po Sandy in "The Conjure Tales of Charles W. Chesnutt," I want to unfold the message Chesnutt is portraying through particular characters in these stories. Is the message the critics see, the same as the reader. I feel like Chesnutt contradicts himself in the conjure tales. By this I mean that he comes off to the reader as one thing, but he is interpreted by literary critics as something else. I think the reason that Chesnutt's work seems contradictory is because he has many voices throughout the stories and it is hard for the reader to distinguish which voice belongs to Chesnutt....   [tags: American Literature Black Writers]

Strong Essays
1465 words (4.2 pages)