The House Behind the Cedars by Charles W. Chesnutt

The House Behind the Cedars by Charles W. Chesnutt

Length: 991 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
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.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The House Behind the Cedars by Charles W. Chesnutt." 20 Nov 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The House Behind the Cedars by Charles W. Chesnutt Essay

- 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....   [tags: The House Behind the Cedars]

Free Essays
991 words (2.8 pages)

Concealment in Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars Essay

- Concealment in Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars Who has something to hide. Everyone in The House behind the Cedars has something to hide. With the possible exception of a few minor characters and children (innocents/ innocence), most characters have something to conceal. Taking this into account, this is more than likely Chesnutt’s acknowledgement of human nature before he gets into the varying motives. Is concealment ultimately worthwhile. Who is hurt and who is helped – or is there any difference....   [tags: House Behind the Cedar]

Research Papers
729 words (2.1 pages)

Opportunity and Burden in the Privileged Woman Illustrated in Chesnutt's, The House Behind the Cedars

- In the memorable novel by American author Charles W. Chesnutt, The House Behind the Cedars, we are driven to examine and understand the predicament of the privileged woman at the beginning of the 20th century. The main character, Rena Walden, is given the opportunity to pass in a high, white society thereby attaining great hopes for status, luxury, and prominent marriage. However, she is required to leave her racially coloured past behind her in order to successfully cross the colour line. Rena’s predicament is that she wants to belong to two very different worlds at the same time but simply cannot in such a deeply segregated society....   [tags: literary analysis, analytical essays]

Research Papers
1029 words (2.9 pages)

Essay about Charles Wadell Chesnutt And The Civil War

- 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....   [tags: Black people, African American, Racism, Race]

Research Papers
961 words (2.7 pages)

Chesnutt’s Evolving Treatment of the Color Line Through Naturalism Essay

- Chesnutt’s Evolving Treatment of the Color Line Through Naturalism in “A Matter of Principle” and The House Behind the Cedar’s Charles W. Chesnutt, a well-educated mulatto man, lived his life on ‘the color line.’ Chesnutt’s skin was very light and was sometimes mistaken for a white man. Chesnutt chose to identify himself as a black man, but in his works, his characters move back and forth across the color line and struggle with the world they exist in. The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line was published one year before The House Behind the Cedars and included the short story, “A Matter of Principle,” where Chesnutt clearly begins to explore what options are available to...   [tags: Hoose Behind The Cedar]

Research Papers
2151 words (6.1 pages)

Charles W. Chesnutt Essay

- Charles W. Chesnutt Though born in Cleveland in 1858, the grandson of a white man and the son of free blacks, Charles W. Chesnutt grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina where his family, having left the South originally in 1856, returned after the Civil War. Chesnutt who had little formal education taught himself and also received tutoring from family members. Chesnutt is known as one of the great American novelist and short-story writers of the late 19th century. Chesnutt lived most of his childhood in Fayetteville, NC where he worked part time in a family grocery store and attended a school founded by the Freedmen's Bureau....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
949 words (2.7 pages)

Essay on Charles W. Chestnutt’s The Conjure Woman

- Charles W. Chestnutt’s The Conjure Woman The first half of Charles W. Chestnutt’s The Conjure Woman begins with the interaction between a Northern white male and the conventional portrayal of a slave. In the novel an old ex-plantation slave, Julius, recounts stories that he says he heard as a child. The audience of the stories is the white Northern male, who is the narrator of the story, and his sickly wife, Annie. The stories are told for many purposes but my favorite reason behind the telling of the tales is Julius’ attempt and in most cases achievement to acquire several things by this sly action....   [tags: essays papers]

Research Papers
706 words (2 pages)

Charles Chesnutt’s “The Passing of Grandison” Essay

- Charles Chesnutt’s “The Passing of Grandison” is a satirical short story about southern plantation life in the early 1850s. Dick Owens, the spoiled first-born son of a rich Kentucky slaveholder named Colonel Owens wants to impress a young woman named Charity Lomax enough to get her to marry him. To do so, Dick decides to secretly free one of his father’s slaves. With his father’s permission, Dick travels North with one of the slaves named Grandison. He does not tell anyone that he intends to leave Grandison behind in a free state....   [tags: Literature]

Research Papers
1250 words (3.6 pages)

The Goophered Grapevine By Charles Chesnutt Essay

- Racism in the United States has been disputed over continuously since the creation of our society. We deeply honor Christopher Columbus, the man who “discovered” America, and our founding fathers, who built us up from nothing. When in reality we live on stolen soil that was built by enslaved people who the Americans treated like barbaric animals for more than 200 years. In the story “The Goophered Grapevine” Charles Chesnutt shows the consequences of those years of torture and brutality on the African race through a black man named Julius that the narrator, John, and his wife, Annie, meet at a vineyard in North Carolina....   [tags: Race, Racism, Slavery, Black people]

Research Papers
761 words (2.2 pages)

Charles W. Chestnutt's The Marrow of Tradition Essay examples

- Charles W. Chestnutt's The Marrow of Tradition         Clearly, one can expect differing critical views of a novel; from the       author's perspective we see one view, from a publisher's another, and from       the reviewer's yet another. This is especially true of Charles W.       Chesnutt's  The Marrow of Tradition. If one observes both the contemporary       reviews of the novel and letters exchanged between Chesnutt and his       friends and publisher, Houghton, Mifflin, and Co., one will see the       disparity in opinions regarding the work....   [tags: Chestnutt Marrow of Tradition Essays]

Research Papers
826 words (2.4 pages)

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.

Return to