William Chesnutt's Literary Analysis

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Chesnutt was one of the first black writers to have their work published in a prestigious literary journal. He had his work published in the Atlantic. His first piece published was The Goophered Grapevine. Throughout Chesnutt’s writing he uses irony, dialect and imagery to bring his characters alive and capture his audience. The most obvious technique Chesnutt uses is the pronounced dialect for his African American characters. Chesnutt’s use of dialect was often used to make fun of the African Americans in his stories just so his white readers could feel a sense of superiority over them. Although his use of dialect was to make fun of the African American characters, Chesnutt was highly praised for his use of dialect, especially by William…show more content…
In Chesnutt’s work he uses irony to help convey the contradictory aspects of life on the color line. In many of his stories, there are times where the readers expect one thing and then something different happens. For example in “The Passing of Grandison” Grandison has a thick southern dialect which he uses to repeatedly to call Colonel Owens “marster” instead of master and he also stresses his gratitude for being a slave, because of this Colonel Owens brags about the fact that Grandison doesn’t have an interest in escaping and that he is a good slave. With this all being said the surprise ending certainly contradicts all that Grandison leads his readers to believe. Grandison ends up proving that his devotion isn’t to his master but to his family and there freedom. Also when reading “The Passing of Grandison” there are many other prime examples of Chesnutt’s use of irony throughout the story for example “He was a youth about 22, intelligent, handsome and amiable, but extremely indolent, in a graceful and gentlemanly way;” This is an example of verbal irony because Chesnutt made the speaker in the story, to intend that is character was lazy and couldn’t be bothered with anything. Another example would be on page 237, “[Dick] did not even scold Grandison; how could he, indeed, find fault with one who sensibly recognized his true place in the economy of civilization...” This quotes strikes me as fairly…show more content…
Chesnutt uses imagery throughout most of his short stories. He uses imagery to draw in his readers and present them with a visual image. The most common story that is brought up when you hear the word imagery is Chesnutt’s short story The Goophered Grapevine. An example that his readers come upon is “we drove between a pair of decayed gateposts- the gate itself had long since disappeared- and up a straight sandy lane- between two lines of rotting rail fence, partly concealed by jimson and briers, to open space where a dwelling had once stood, evidently a spacious mansion, if we might judge from the ruined chimneys that were still standing, and the brick pillars on which the sills rested. The house itself, we had been informed had fallen a victim to the fortunes of war.” This is a perfect example of imagery. When reading this quote are minds start to picture a dirt road where a car is driving past a pair of old decaying iron gate post that are falling apart that is followed by a rusted and rotting rail fence that is covered in jimson weeds. As the car continues to drive up the dirt roads the readers are then able to visualize a wide open space where a huge house once stood that is now decaying and falling apart. I feel that Chesnutt used such great details to take his readers on a journey and have them feel like there were they and apart of the story. I also feel that Chesnutt went into great detail to help his
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