Race In Charles Chesnutt's The Marrow Of Tradition

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Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition, is one of the first novels to discuss racial tension in the Post-Civil War South. Even after the abolition of slavery, white citizens like Major Carteret, General Belmont, and Captain McBane will stop at nothing to maintain the superiority of the white race. Through the novel, Chesnutt closely juxtaposes certain characters, especially of the white and black race to express that the two peoples may not be as different as one would think. For the white’s perspective, they are horrified with threat that the black race is rising in social and economic power. Characters like Janet and Olivia, McBane and Josh Green, and Polly Ochiltree and Julia are all paired together by Chesnutt to express that when one…show more content…
After the death of Elizabeth Merkell (Polly’s sister), Mrs. Ochiltree tries to woo her former husband and become the woman of the household. This attempt evidently fails because of a scandalous affair between Sam Merkell and his servant, Julia. This affair results in the birth of a child, but shortly after, Sam Merkell dies. On his deathbed, he informed Julia of the location of his will and their marriage certificate, but Polly Ochiltree overheard and hid the papers, so that Julia would never have rights to the estate. Polly’s conniving nature was not unnoticed by Mr. Merkell when he says, “If she [Julia] had left me, I should have fallen a victim to Polly Ochiltree,—to which any fate was preferable” (168). Because of her unfavorable personality, Polly Ochiltree is twice a widower is unable to marry again before her death. Her relationship between her and her double is not as clear as within the other sets. When Mrs. Ochiltree sees Julia, she is filled with envy similarly to when a person looks at a celebrity, but when she reflects back upon herself she realizes that she cannot never be in the position of Julia. Thus, when a person looks back at his/herself, s/he does not like what s/he
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