Uncle Julius, the Goophered Grapevine

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Mary Singleton
EN 420

Uncle Julius In the story “The Goophered Grapevine”, by Charles Chestnutt, the character Uncle Julius is first portrayed as an uneducated freed slave who lives off the land. The story takes place shortly after slavery and we see how slavery is intertwined with aspects of the landscape. The slaves were oppressed in the same way the landscape is exploited for profit. When the narrator asks Uncle Julius about the history of the land, Julius begins to tell him a grand tale. From the beginning of his story, Chestnutt shows us that Julius has probably told this tale before and knows it well. According to Julius, the vineyard belonged Mars Dugal' McAdoo and Mr. McAdoo hired a conjure woman to keep the slaves from going into the vineyards and eating all the grapes and “scuppermon’s”.  The witch used leaves and a snake’s foot to put a spell on the “scuppermon’s” and any slave who ate them were going to die within 12 months. Julius’ tale is obviously far fetched, and is the main source of humor in the story. After telling his tale of those who suffered from this spell, Uncle Julius concludes that these northerners should not buy this vineyard, adding conveniently that he is not afraid to eat the grapes because “He know the ole vimes fum de noo ones.” (345). The northerner decides to buy the farm in spite of Uncle Julius’ warnings, but he also offers him employment as a coachman. It seems as if Uncle Julius had been trying to guarantee his usefulness on the plantation even after its sale. In the end, the northerner finds that Julius has been living on the land in a cabin, making moonshine with the unused grapes.

Through the use of dialect and diction, Chestnutt suggests that Uncle Julius is just as simple as at first seems. Uncle Julius is depicted with a heavy slaves accent, and he uses colloquial sayings, and informal diction throughout his tale. Chestnutt’s use of...
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