The Color Line By Charles Wadell Chesnutt

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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. His writings about slavery and mulattos living on the “color line” carried inherent convictions of slavery while engaging to readers of Plantation fictional works by white authors who wrote sentimentally of the…show more content…
It is during this time that Chesnutt used his literary prowess to establish himself as a well-respected writer and with his literary talents, he used his stories as a way to bring attention to underlining problems of the color line within the black community. The color line was originally used as a reference to the racial segregation that occurred in the United States proceeding the abolition of slavery. Within the African American community, the color line became an issue of light skin or “mulattos” versus darker skinned or obvious blacks. In many of his short stories, Chesnutt takes on these issues through various themes found in his works. Addressing a more common theme found in many of his stories is the use of “passing” or the…show more content…
The story is a two part plot for the grander purpose of criticizing and ridiculing slavery. The beginning of the story involves Dick Owens, who is the son of a plantation owner. Dick is attempting to convince a young lady, Charity Lomax, into marry him. The second and more central part of the plot concerns Dick trying to achieve this by taking a Grandison to the north and providing him the opportunity to escape. Unaware of his son’s intentions the plantation owner Colonel Owens selects Grandison to go up north with Dick. Grandison superficially assures the colonel that being a slave is a wonderful thing, confirming the colonel’s affectionate opinions of slavery. In a very ironic manner, the story manages to hide its conclusion until the final paragraphs that the slave will indeed trick the master. In this story and throughout the setting the societal belief among whites is that the Negro lacks intellectual capabilities in comprehension and

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