Differences Between Race And Food Essay

Differences Between Race And Food Essay

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Scattered throughout our history books, you can find countless examples of wars being fought and conflicts that boil down to simply power and who has it. As a general statement, everyone wants to have some power and ability to control their own lives, if not the lives of those around them. If the two stereotypes that we are presented with about the relationship between race and food could be reduced to their most simplistic explanation, you would be left with the idea that by treating African Americans as food or comical relief, Caucasians are stripping their African American counterparts of their power to control their own lives and showing their supposed dominance. There is no doubt that Chesnutt utilizes these stereotypes in both “The Goophered Grapevine” and “Dave’s Neckliss,” however, he goes past and complicates these stereotypes when he introduces characters that slyly take back some of the power that they are stripped of.
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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