How Chenutt Uses Mars McAdoo (in The Goophered Grapevine) To Comment On The Slaveholders In The – Assignment Example
The Goophered Grapevine Charles Chesnutt, in the short story, The Goophered Grapevine, makes an oblique commentary on the issues of social and racialidentity in the South at the turn of the last century. Superficially, this is a tale in the tradition of the wily Brer Rabbit type African American hero hoodwinking the rich white farmer. However, the story also has several complex layers, with irony and humor spread thick between.
Chesnutt utilizes one of the characters, a wealthy plantation owner, Mars ‘Dugal’ McAdoo, to make observations about the manipulative nature of the slaveholders of the South. McAdoo is portrayed as not just brutal, but also greedy and unscrupulous. These qualities are emphasized by depicting his sale and purchase of Henry multiple times, in effect cheating his peers. He finally is duped himself by a visiting Yankee winepress seller. The black characters Henry and Aunt Peggy also manage to outsmart MacAdoo.
Chesnutt, though, hints at Juliuss capacity for manipulation too, when he discourages the white Yankee from buying the plantation by stating that it is “goophered” or bewitched: “There was a shrewdness in his eyes” say the unnamed white narrator. At the same time he insinuates that Julius “was not entirely black, and this fact …suggested a slight strain of other than negro blood.” (Chesnutt, 2008). This also alludes to the sexual exploitation slave women faced at the hands of their white masters at the time. Chesnutt’s early work is often cited as an example of American literary realism in that he incorporated African American folklore and fantasy as a means to carry his message across, and message it was indeed, for Chesnutt was a prominent civil rights activist of his day.
Chesnutt, C. W. (2008). The Goophered Grapevine and Other Stories. U.K. Dodo Press.