Chesnutt's Works





Site Info



Chesnutt's Tales

The simple art with which Chesnutt tells his tales is not unbefitting the primitive motives which make their pathetic interest. The color prejudices among themselves, the injustice, from the white race to the black, the lengthening shadows of the long period of slavery, furnish his subjects. The narrator is never bitter, his experience and his observation force him to use his undoubted gift of expression in illustrating the facts which are bought before us more vividly in this way than in any other. In "The Web of Circumstances" we see that even Booker Washington's panacea for the condition of the Negro, "proputty" and a good trade, is not a certain cure. Even though the stigma were removed which differentiates the black race in the estimation of the white, their own class distinctions, based on shades of color, will carry on the evils of the situation indefinitely. It is not the author's business to philosophize or to draw conclusions. In fact, he writes with an underlying hope and courage which accentuates the lesson he is teaching and grasps manfully at the remote promise which the future holds out to the faith: "Some time, we are told, when the cycle of years has rolled around, there is to be another golden age, when all men will dwell together in love and harmony, and when peace and righteousness shall prevail for a thousand years. God speed the day and let not the shining thread of hope become so enmeshed in the web of circumstance that we lose sight of it; but give us here and there, and now and then, some little foretaste of this golden age, that we may the more patiently and hopefully abide its coming." In saying Amen to this we feel that the existence and character of Chesnutt himself are among the foretastes of the long-deferred golden age!

The name story is the most finished of these racial narratives, but the simples of them all, "The Bouquet," is the most perfect--a touching, homely idyl.

[The Wife of His Youth. Charles W. Chesnutt. Houghton, Mifflin & Co.]


"Chesnutt's Tales," Rev. of The Wife of His Youth In: "Books of the Day," Boston Evening Transcript 16 Dec 1899: 25.