Motifs In Charles W. Chesnutt's The Marrow Of Tradition

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The Marrow of Tradition by Charles W. Chesnutt is an incredibly detailed and sophisticated work that is successful at highlighting the small overlooked details, especially the motifs, that contribute to this timeless classic. A key recurring motif in the text is the idea of doubles; the parallel characters or groups of characters that ultimately contribute to the connections among the characters and the rising theme. Chesnutt develops a motif of doubles--Janet and Olivia, Ellis and Tom, and Dr. Miller and Josh Green --to explore the ways that humanity’s desire for power and class often result in a chaos that overpowers a balanced social structure. Olivia Merkel and Janet Miller are half-sisters and have similar features, except for the fact that Janet is partially black. This alone…show more content…
Miller may seem to be foil characters and Miller is higher up in the social class, yet they both have a similar say in society due to their race and are not afraid to share their strong opinions about the conflict. Miller strongly believes that fighting would only be “throwing [their] lives away (183)” while Josh disagrees because he believes in revenge. Both of these controversial opinions have a role in the riot that breaks out, and their determination is demonstrated by their lasting opinions. Moreover, they both don’t get a strong say in society due to their race; Josh states, “A w'ite man kin do w'at he wants ter a nigger” (74). While Miller and Josh are trying to come up with a plan, Miller discovers that they both cannot have a strong say so he states, “There must be some white men in the town who would stand for law and order” (125). Both of these characters have a determined personality along with their race so when the conflict arises in the riot, both of them play key roles in different viewpoints which causes chaos among the people. The conflictions posed in Josh’s and Miller’s role show how the double roles they play affect their standing in

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