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The Passing of Grandison

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Charles Chesnutt's "The Passing of Grandison" (p. 472-483) used satire and humor to expose the common stereotype that southern whites believed about black slaves. The word passing in the title usually refers to an African American, usually light skinned, passing for white, but in the case of this story, the term passing takes on a completely different meaning. In this story, the instead of passing for white, the main character, Grandison seems to be passing as something that he really isn't, and that is an unassuming, uneducated obedient slave who is extremely loyal to this master. The story, which shows a supposedly uneducated black man outwitting a white man was sure to have caused controversy when it was written. And perhaps this was the author's intent to create such a stir that one would have to re-examine the way that they viewed black slaves. It's not hard to imagine that the story was a favorite amongst those who favored sbolotionists. Grandison used fiction to deal with the very real issue of racism that existed during the slavery. Many whites, in control of slaves, felt themselves to be more superior to the blacks who they believed to be uncivilized and sub-human. The author humorously talked the social conditions that existed during slavery, and exposed ju

The story itself almost reads like an African fable, where the antagonists is showed the errs of his ways. Like the sly fox in the brer rabbit stories, Grandison outsmarted the master who thought himself to be superior than his slave. The lesson learned could have easily been, never under estimate. The old slave who proved himself to be almost trustworthy when the son of the slavemaster attempted to get the slave to run away. I guess even in this instance, Grandison refused to live up to the white man's expectations of him. He proved himself to be not to stupid to want freedom, to the young master, he proved himself to be, not so easily influenced by outside forces, as the young maste r hoped he would be.

The story doesn't follow what happened to Grandison between his arranged kidnapping and his return back to the plantation, but one could imagine that after getting a taste of freedom, Grandison decided that it was to good to enjoy alone, and thus, returned to the plantation to claim those true to his heart. Again, Grandison played on the slavemaster's trust in his obedient slave, and threw himself upon the mercy of the master, who was probably more excited to see that he had proven himself right. Grandison once again, outsmarated the master when he not only returned and left again, but took some of the master's prized



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