Beyond “Bitter”: Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition

Beyond “Bitter”: Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition SYDNEY BUFKIN At the beginning of Charles W. Chesnutt's novel The Marrow of Tradition (1901), Major Carteret, the editor of the Morning Chronicle in fictional Wellington, N.C., has an audience problem.1 More precisely, he finds himself without an audience for his editorials advocating white supremacy: In spite of the force and intelligence with which Carteret had expressed these and similar views, they had not met the immediate response anticipated. There were thoughtful men, willing to let well enough alone, who saw no necessity for such a movement. . . . There were timid men who shrank from civic strife. . . . There were a few fair men, prepared to admit, privately, that a class constituting half to two thirds of the population were fairly entitled to some representation in the law-making bodies. Perhaps there might have been found, somewhere in the state, a single white man ready to concede that all men were entitled to equal rights before the law. (79­80) The Morning Chronicle may be the primary newspaper in Wellington and the "acknowledged organ" of the Democratic party, but its readers are presented as heterogenous in their personal interests and political beliefs and largely uninterested in http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Literary Realism University of Illinois Press

Beyond “Bitter”: Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition

American Literary Realism, Volume 46 (3) – Mar 23, 2014

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Publisher
University of Illinois Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 American Literary Realism.
ISSN
1940-5103
Publisher site
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Abstract

SYDNEY BUFKIN At the beginning of Charles W. Chesnutt's novel The Marrow of Tradition (1901), Major Carteret, the editor of the Morning Chronicle in fictional Wellington, N.C., has an audience problem.1 More precisely, he finds himself without an audience for his editorials advocating white supremacy: In spite of the force and intelligence with which Carteret had expressed these and similar views, they had not met the immediate response anticipated. There were thoughtful men, willing to let well enough alone, who saw no necessity for such a movement. . . . There were timid men who shrank from civic strife. . . . There were a few fair men, prepared to admit, privately, that a class constituting half to two thirds of the population were fairly entitled to some representation in the law-making bodies. Perhaps there might have been found, somewhere in the state, a single white man ready to concede that all men were entitled to equal rights before the law. (79­80) The Morning Chronicle may be the primary newspaper in Wellington and the "acknowledged organ" of the Democratic party, but its readers are presented as heterogenous in their personal interests and political beliefs and largely uninterested in

Journal

American Literary RealismUniversity of Illinois Press

Published: Mar 23, 2014

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