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The Marrow of Tradition

"The Marrow of Tradition." By Charles W. Chesnutt. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. Price, $1.40.

"[The] Marrow of Tradition," by Charles W. Chesnutt. Here is a novel with a purpose-a purpose that underlies and dominates the whole. The book is a special plea for the political rights of the negro in those sections of the South where recent action has been taken to deprive them of the ballot. Whether right or wrong, Mr. Chesnutt is terribly in earnest. To discuss this book would of necessity bring up the broad question of race assimilation-a question which at the present time occupies the attention, not only of the South, but of the nation.

The treatment of the question is faulty, in that the contrast between the two races is marked with all good on the side of the negro and all bad on the side of the white. This evident prejudice dulls the point of the "purpose" and takes from the implied argument half its weight. As in all ancient and orthodox novels, the story ends with reward for the good and punishment for the evil inclined.

Anon. "The Marrow of Tradition." In: "Books and Authors." The St. Paul Globe. November 20, 1901: 4.