Charles W. Chesnutt’s use of characters and rhetorical devices to address social issues of Afro-American during the Reconstruction period.

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African Americans history has been one of the most difficult yet grandiose parts of the human evolution. Their journey was long to reach the freedom they have today in America. One of the most important part of the afro American story is the Reconstruction period who took part from 1865 to 1877. Black literature also grew during that time and became more inspirational for future generations yet mostly descriptive of the shifts from slavery to some kind of freedom. Charles W. Chesnutt, an Afro-American writer, who lived during the American Civil War, was the first black American to publish fiction stories. Through many of his literary work, such as, his journal or The Wife of His Youth, Chesnutt left his mark on the modern society who still discusses his writing. Charles W. Chesnutt’ use of characters and themes and mainly trough the use of rhetorical devices such as examples and comparisons in his fictional stories or in his journals address the societal issues of the Reconstruction Period for the African American.

The themes Chesnutt used in his work were a relatively good representation of the black mentality of the Reconstruction period. He demonstrated that this period was not just a matter of freedom for the black man but mostly a matter of being treated equally as the white man. Chesnutt emphasized his writing on two main themes, personal achievement and equal treatment. In his journal, he focuses on ambition and determination as the main keys to success. During the Reconstruction period, one of the main issues Chesnutt was affected by was the evident inequality between white and black writers. In one of his journal, this Afro-American writer give as an example the white writers who were really successful writing about the southern black culture even though they had so little knowledge on the matter. He then compares them to a fictional black writer and shows how this hypothetical character would be way more qualified to write about his own culture. ‘’And if Judge Tourgee, with his necessarily limited intercourse with colored people, and with his limited stay in the South, can write such interesting descriptions, such vivid pictures of the Southern life and character as to make himself rich and famous, why could not a colored man, who has lived among colored people all his life; who is familiar with their habits, their ruling passions, their prejudices (…) why could not a colored man who knew all this (…) if he possesses the same ability, write a far better book about the South than Judge Tourgee (…) Answers who can! But the man is yet to make his appearance;’’ (Chesnutt, 57) In that particular journal, Chesnutt made good use of rhetorical devices such as examples and comparisons to clearly show the inequality between white and black writers even if the black writer would be more qualified to discuss some topics especially those directly linked to the black culture.

In The Wife of His Youth, mainly through theme and...

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