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American Passages: A Literary SurveyUnit IndexAmerican Passages Home
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8. Regional Realism   

8. Regional

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•  Using the Video
•  Authors
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•  Activities
- Overview Questions
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Activities: Author Activities

Charles W. Chesnutt - Author Questions

Back Back to Charles W. Chesnutt Activities
  1. Comprehension: Why does Uncle Julius tell the white narrator the story of the "goophered" vineyard? What effect does the story have on the narrator? What do we learn about Julius's relationship to the land and its produce over the course of the tale?

  2. Comprehension: What is the "Blue Vein Society" to which Ryder belongs in "The Wife of His Youth"? How do the Blue Veins participate in the construction of the social "color line" which Chesnutt found so fascinating? What values do the Blue Veins seem to promote among African Americans?

  3. Context: Compare Uncle Julius to Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus. What kinds of relationships do they have with their white auditors? What seems to motivate their storytelling sessions? How do the trickster tales related in Julius's and Remus's stories differ?

  4. Context: Compare Chesnutt's representations of African American dialect to Alexander Posey's representations of the speech of Creek Indians. What characterizes each group's speech patterns? How do the speakers describe and relate to members of their own race? How do the speakers describe and relate to people of other races?

  5. Exploration: Chesnutt was part of an early tradition of preserving traditional folktales and recording folk customs. His representations of African American beliefs about "conjuring" and "hoodoo"--spiritual practices that combined African, Caribbean, and Christian religious traditions--offer important insight into African American culture. How do Chesnutt's representations of "conjuring" relate to later African American writers' interest in these practices? How might Chesnutt have influenced Toni Morrison's interest in the supernatural?

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