Racism Is the Norm in “The Wife of his Youth”

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Arniecia Sutton
Professor Hill
American Literature
22 February 2013
Racism Is the Norm in “The Wife of his Youth”
Charles Chesnutt uses real life scenarios to illustrate the meaning of his stories. He also was a socially conscious writer who addressed racial issues that shaped the cultural climate of his time. Chestnutt, as a writer, successfully passed as a white author for most of his career, which allowed him access unavailable to his identifiable black counterparts. Suprisingly, most of his work focused on black experiences during Reconstruction, but specifically “The Wife Of His Youth” captured much about the issues plaguing his society at the time through the racial theme and realism style of writing he incorporated.

The central point of this story was the ethnic issues that took place. The story displayed how after the war, Civil War, many blacks had to find their place in society. For example, the mulattos had more obstacles to face because they were often ostracized in society because of their mixed ethnicity. Quite often many mulatto's would band together in order to form their own society in an effort to have an identity. In Chesnutt’s “The Wife Of His Youth,” the protagonist of this story, Mr. Ryder, was a mulatto man who established himself into one of these societies- The Blue Vein Society. This exclusive society was described as: The original Blue Veins were a little society of colored persons organized in a certain Northern city shortly after the war. Its purpose was to establish and maintain correct social standards among a people whose social condition presented almost unlimited room for improvement. By accident, combined perhaps with some natural affinity, the society consisted of individuals who were, generally speaking, more white than black." (465-466)

These restricted communities caused social upheaval among blacks because not only are blacks segregated from the whites because of race relations but people that contain the same...
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