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Vernacular storytelling

Dialect literature is found to not only deliver a story’s message in a compelling manner but also literally gives voice to the characters. Today, dialect literature is commonly known as vernacular speech or vernacular storytelling. Vernacular speech is understood to be the spoken dialect of a particular race or people. It allows for the unique patterns, pauses, accents and phrases to frame the story. This distinctive form of storytelling soon developed into a post-Civil War literary phenomenon. This may be due to the fact that it allows the contrast between white and black speech patterns to be further highlighted by the reader, granting the overall theme of racism to become more evident. Two famous American authors by the names of Mark Twain and Charles W. Chesnutt both incorporate vernacular storytelling into their own post-Civil War short stories. Twain uses vernacular speech throughout A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It and Chesnutt uses vernacular speech in his short story The Goophered Grapevine.
“Mark Twain” was born as Samuel L. Clemens in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835 (61). Mark Twain initially began his writing career as a “generator of humorous newspaper sketches rather than serious literary works” (61). Yet in his later years, was noted to have “become one of the sharpest critics of society and politics in the United States, both in the North and in the South” (62). Mark Twain’s short story A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It first appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in 1874, issuing a “piece that was anything but funny, it was a poignant account of a former slave” (67). Twain’s A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It use of vernacular speech allows for the story to be...

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...in but also illustrates the distinct viewpoint between the southerners and northerners and the black and white people of the post-Civil War United States.
Vernacular storytelling is an important aspect of not only American short stories but in American history itself. Vernacular speech portrays the awful but true themes of racism, southern life and post-Civil War struggles in an intriguing manner. When first reading A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It and The Goophered Grapevine the themes may not have appeared similar but through the use of vernacular storytelling both Twain and Chesnutt give an accurate account of racial inequalities. As seen in both, A True Story, Repeated Word for Word as I Heard It and The Goophered Grapevine the use of dialect literature helps preserve this serious issue of racism, found prominently in post-Civil War history.
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