Analysis Of The Wife Of His Youth

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Charles Chesnutt was an African American author who was born on June 20, 1850. Chesnutt was well known for his short stories about the issues of social and racial identity in post- reconstruction south. Chesnutt’s well-known example of his collection of short stories “The Wife of his Youth: And other Stories of the Color Line” examines issues of discrimination that permeate within the African American community. His most anthologized short story “The Wife of his Youth” explores the issue racial passing. The character Mr. Ryder attempts to assimilate into the white majority in a post- reconstruction American society. Mr. Ryder’s hopes to assimilate becomes an obsession. His opportunity for assimilation arrives through a widow name of Mrs. Molly Dixon,…show more content…
The characters are torn between who they are and who they need to be. Racial passing further perpetrates discrimination within American society, especially within the black community. Mr. Ryder’s actions further perpetrates the notion of race as a social and cultural construction. Mr. Ryder does not want to be accepted as black and he must live up to his principle through disassociation with the black culture. Mr. Ryder’s hope for a better future meant erasing his “blackness” and identify with his “whiteness”. Eliza’s narration of her slave life awaken his moral conscious. The path Mr. Ryder wishes to obtain is unrealistic in a post-American society because he cannot erase his past. In a post reconstruction era it was vital to connect in a time of instability. Mr. Ryder’s re-telling of Eliza’s story is connecting their fragmented family. Mr. Ryder’s acknowledgement Eliza, despite knowing the fact that he must go against his principles, he proposes that individuals must unite as a family if they want to promote change. Chesnutt short story proposes that black Americans need to unite in the struggle to end racial and social
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