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To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. Charles W. Chestnutt: "The Passing of Grandison". Jesse Zuba. Notes 1. The story engages with a popular sub-genre of Reconstruction-era fiction known as "Plantation Fiction," which tries to evoke nostalgia for the antebellum south by promoting the myth of the contented, loyal slave and the kindly master.

Set anywhere in the southern U. The plot usually focused on the testing of fidelity -- both of the slave to his or her master, and of the young heir to the maiden. What do you think Chesnutt is up to? Could it be that the story is itself "passing" as plantation fiction, only to reveal itself as the opposite, in the same way Grandison does?

What are the implications? The dialogue in the story often seems to me anyway to seem overwrought. This makes sense in Grandison's case. When he says, for example, "Deed, suh, I would n' low none er dem cussed, low- down abolitioners ter come nigh me, such I'd -- I'd -- would I be 'lowed ter hit 'em, suh?

But Dick Owens also sounds ridiculous: e. Is there a distinction between Grandison's performance and Owens's? Might Charity be performing, too -- the role of the southern belle, maybe? Her marriage proposal -- "But I presume I'll have to marry you Class and socio-economic mobility are represented in interesting ways in "Grandison. Similarly, the challenge of Dick's proving himself -- demonstrating his ambition -- to Charity is really two-fold: a he's got to overcome his laziness, and b there simply isn't any higher socio-economic status for him to aspire to, since he's already at the top of the ladder.

Instead of being so low that the only way to go is up, Dick's so high that the only way to go is down, which is exactly what happens when he tries to run Grandison off, since he ends up reducing his own inheritance. In yet another strange twist on class and mobility, for Grandison, geographic mobility coincides with socio-economic mobility, and the best way for him to achieve the "American Dream" of upward mobility is, ironically, to leave America for Canada.

What further instances of class status and mobility does the story provide? Does Charity's decision to marry Dick despite his failure to prove himself have any relevant implications for this issue? What do you think Chesnutt's saying about the "American Dream"? Related Papers. William Wells Brown's Economy of Entertainment. By Bryan Sinche. Plantation Fiction.

By Peter J Schmidt. Applying Strategies of the Snobographer: Charles W. By Christopher Koy. American British Canadian Studies, volume Signifying on Scots: Charles W.

Chesnutt's Parodies of Walter Scott. Download pdf. Remember me on this computer. Enter the email address you signed up with and we'll email you a reset link. Need an account? Click here to sign up.


The Passing of Grandison Summary

These notes were contributed by members of the GradeSaver community. The story opens with Dick Owens , a young rich man, attending a trial of a Yankee who was found guilty of kidnapping a slave from his allegedly cruel master. In prison he soon dies of cholera helping to treat his fellow inmates. This deed is considered to be particularly heroic by Charity Lomax , a girl Dick is keen on. His plan is to take one of the slaves on a trip up North to give him a taste of freedom or to let them be lured or kidnapped by abolitionists. Instead, he suggests, Dick takes Grandison , a slave who seems to be more trustworthy.


The Passing of Grandison

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In Chesnutt's story, the aspect of racial passing is addressed on both a narrative and textual level in order to illustrate a "destabilization of constructs of race, identity, and finally of textuality itself". Charity tells Dick that if he did something she considered heroic, she could be convinced to fall in love with him and marry him. For this reason, Dick decides to help one of the slaves of his father's plantation to escape to the North. He chooses this particular way to impress Charity because she admires the courage of a man from Ohio, who tried to help another man's slave gain freedom but was unsuccessful and, as a consequence, was jailed.



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