The House Behind the Cedars by Charles W. Chesnutt

The House Behind the Cedars by Charles W. Chesnutt

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Neither white nor black people want to be poor, hungry, or unfair judgment put on them. However, being born with the blood of their parents, they have to live under different circumstances. Their lives are comfortable or struggled that depends on the kind of blood their parents give them. Especially, the mulattos who have mixed blood of white and black have more difficulties in life because of having multiple cultures. Indeed, the novel “the House Behind the Cedars” of Charles W. Chesnutt main message about race relation is that mulattos struggle dramatically in racial society of white, black, and mulatto their own kind people.
The author distinguishes white people as privileged and respectful compare to mulattos and blacks. In the racial society, white people have the right to get any high-class position in job or live any places. In the story, all white characters are noble such as Judge Straight lawyer, Doctor Green, business-man George, and former slaveholder Mrs. Tryon. Moreover, the author also states the racial distinction of whites on mulattos. For example, when Dr. Green talks to Tryon, “‘The niggers,’…, ‘are getting mighty trifling since they’ve been freed. Before the war, that boy would have been around there and back before you could say Jack Robinson; now, the lazy rascal takes his time just like a white man.’ ” (73) Additionally, in the old society, most white people often disdained and looked down on mulattos. Even though there were some whites respected colored people friendly, there were no way for colored people to stand parallel with whites’ high class positions. The story has demonstrations that Judge Straight accepted John as his assistant, Mrs. Tryon honor interviewed Rena, and George finally changed and decided to marry Rena; however, the discrimination is inevitable. For example, when Mrs. Tryon heard Rena was colored, she was disappointed. “The lady, who had been studying her as closely as good manners would permit, sighed regretfully.” (161) There, Mrs. Tryon might have a good plan for Rena, but the racial society would not accept; since Rena was a mulatto, Mrs. Tryon could not do anything to help Rena in white social life. The racial circumstance does not only apply on mulattos, but it also expresses the suffering of black people.
In the story, black people crave for liberty and fairness so they can have equal love with other colored people, but they do not have the power to confess it even with mulattos.

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They are honesty, loyalty, and always ready to sacrifice themselves for their loves. Frank’ infatuation is a good example. “Frank …. would have given his life for Rena. A kind word was doubly sweet from her lips; no service would be too great to pay for her friendship.” (124) In other words, black people tend to sacrifice their dreams and lives just to have a little satisfy for their own. Unfortunately, the harsh racial class ceiling prevented and separated black people from approaching white skin world. Even Frank’s father understood and accepted the fate and the limit of being black. “Now’s de time, boy, fer you ter be lookin’ roun’ fer some nice gal er yo’ own color, w’at’ll ‘preciate you, an’ won’t be ‘shamed er you. You’re wastin’ time, boy, wastin’ time, shootin’ at a mark outer yo’ range.” (85) Frank knew that too, but he insisted his love to Rena because he was a loyal person. Chesnutt uses Frank as an example for blacks to demonstrate the racism which blacks have to bear. Chesnutt also mentions in the story that black people are the poorest people since they had been slaves for many years, and the racists consider them to stay at the lowest level class. Because of poverty, they work hard and try to get money from any sources such as labors, farming, or low positions. For instance, Plato, a black kid, makes a favor for Tryon to meet Rena in exchange for a half-dollar. Indeed, blacks in Charles’ novel are friendly and easygoing because they accept their destiny. Beside blacks, in Chesnutt’s novel, mulattos also learn racial experiences and surrender their ambitions or their own generation to stay where they have to be in this society.
The author’s opinion in the novel about the main race mulatto is the hardest. “One drop of black blood makes the whole man black.” (113) Mulatto who is mixed between a white and black has to risk his or her life to accomplice his or her goal. The tough problem of mulattos is that they do not belong to white nor black class. They do not want to live lowly like blacks, and if they want to live like whites, they have to hide their black blood in secret even they have to escape from their family. John Warden is the best example that he had to run away from his hometown and family to consider himself as white, so he could become a lawyer. Further, the racial society in the story will not allow a person who has black parents background to stand in high class. In John’s case, they would take his lawyer license and put him back to his original black status. Additionally, South Carolinians judge other’s status base on the outlook, the color skin that they are wearing, the behavior that they are behaving. That is an opportunity for mulattos to raise their heads high, but if the society discovers one of them has a different blood from white’s, the disdain and rejection are obvious. To illustrate, when Tryon acknowledge Rena’s “true” identity, he informed his attitude: “I would never have sought to know this thing; I would doubtless have been happier had I gone through life without finding it out; but having the knowledge, I cannot ignore it, as you must understand perfectly well.” (102) Although Tryon loved Rena very much, he could not marry and live with Rena, as Rena was a mulatto. Sadly, being discriminating by whites, mulattos themselves have prides to live aloof from blacks. The party in Rena’ house is the best example. Every mulatto had the fun to one another but kept far away from Frank, a black, who was not invited at first but somehow had an invitation later. Hence, the author states obviously the unfairness of whites to mulattos and mulattos to blacks.
In conclusion, in the novel, Charles Chesnutt messages racism of three different classes: white, black, and mulatto in his timed society. Each race has each own pride and living life. Except white people who have more priorities to stand above other colored people. Blacks and mulattos have to struggle dramatically but cannot achieve the needs they want. At the end of story, the author makes Rena die that he wants to change the racism of readers. If the racial society is not changed, there is only the death way for colored people. The author is calling for a generosity of people to create a better human relationship; not only whites treat fairly to colored people, but also mulattos to blacks.

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