Afro Am Lit
In the 10 years between the publication of "The Goophered Grapevine," Chesnutt's first conjure tale, and the composition of "The Dumb Witness," the development of segregation culture had even more firmly cemented the popular notions of black and white identifies in the United States. (Robison 61)
Charles Chesnutt is credited as a pro-black writer for first being an African-American writer and then presenting the African-American experience for the further humanizing of blacks in the United States. Much of Chesnutt’s work was drawn from his own experience as a fair-skinned black person as revealed by Mary Zeigler in her article, "History And Background Of The Charles W. Chesnutt …show more content…
(Murphy) The bulk of the 30,000 readers that “The Atlantic Monthly”, now just “The Atlantic”, achieved in its first two years would have been middle to upper class, white males; something like the readers of Time or The Economist (Murphy). This is important because Chesnutt would have had to make sure that his work appealed to this audience in order to get published. Just like much of the other black literature from the United States’ racially oppressive past, if there were to be any humanizing message in it and it were going to be presented to a white audience, it would go a lot farther if any pro-black messages that were to be included they would have had to be layered and masked. So just like Phyllis Wheatley’s poetry, Chesnutt sets out to publish this story that is supposed to share and exalt the black experience. His pursuit seems to become stifled because it appears that his purpose is too layered and too masked and beneath degrading and degenerative stereotypes. Chesnutt does not even use the stereotypes presented to the advantage of his purpose in a way that would be or possibly should be expected.
Jean Filetti talks about how Charles Chesnutt sets up the story for a moral lesson to be learned. John and Annie, the younger, naïve couple, come and sit and listen to the venerable looking old man; the perfect