The first stereotype that we encounter in these two stories, is the idea that African Americans are comically veracious eaters and therefore cannot be taken seriously. In “The Goophered Grapevine,” we see two key examples of this. The first being when the husband and wife come across Julius who is “smacking his lips with great gusto” (pg.34) while eating grapes, a manner that is made clear as being habitual. Julius is not just characterized as eating grapes but rather as smacking his lips, which leads readers to picture an exaggerated manner of consumption and with gusto leads readers to have a sense of desperation and excitement over such a small thing. Also, the narrator makes it clear that the husband and wife don’t take him seriously as they interpret his respectful behavior of acknowledging their pr...
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... the slaves in general as being human rather than something consumable and disposable like food, but it also is giving the slaves a bit more power and equal footing as they partake in drink together.
Without closely reading into these two stories by Chesnutt, a casual reader could easily overlook the instances in which the stereotypes of a powerless, unserious, entertaining African American are over turned. However, a deeper reading into these stories truly rewards a reader and proves that Chesnutt slyly throws in instances of African Americans winning back some of their power and standing, thus complicating and contradicting the stereotypes. This proves that Chesnutt, in fact, was aware when he was writing that he was playing into the stereotypes to appease the majority audience, but that he also added instances of contradiction for those that cared to find them.
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