Depicting the Local in American Literature 1865–1900 Authors and Works Featured in the Video: Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (novel), “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” (satire, literary criticism) Charles W. Chesnutt, “The Goophered Grapevine” and “The Wife of His Youth” (stories) Kate Chopin, The Awakening (novel), “At the ’Cadian Ball” and “The Storm” (stories) Discussed in This Unit: Bret Harte, “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” (story) Joel Chandler Harris, “The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story,” “Mr. Rabbit Grossly Deceives Mr. Fox” (stories) Sarah Orne Jewett, “The White Heron,” “The Foreigner” (stories) Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, “A New England Nun,” “The Revolt of ‘Mother’ ” (stories) Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa), excerpts from From the Deep Woods to Civilization (autobiography) Alexander Posey, letters of Fus Fixico (stories, political satire), poems ? Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin), “Impressions of an Indian Childhood,” “The School Days of an Indian Girl,” “An Indian Teacher among Indians” (autobiographical essays) I What kinds of narrative conventions structure oral and visual autobiographies? I What regional and ethnic dialects were represented in late-nineteenth-century literature? Why were dialect stories so popular in late-nineteenthcentury America? I What are the distinguishing characteristics of realism? What cultural values does realism reflect and promote? I What is regionalist writing? What historical events and cultural anxieties fueled regionalism’s popularity in the late nineteenth century? I In the popular imagination of the late nineteenth century, what distinguished certain regions of the country from one another? I In what ways can regionalist texts be representative of the general “American” experience? I How did technology bind together the United States in the late nineteenth century? I What is dialect? How did different authors represent dialect? I How do narrators affect the tone of a fictional text? What kinds of narrators emerge in realist writing of the late nineteenth century? I What is a trickster figure? What cultural work do trickster figures perform? I How do regionalist texts participate in or challenge racial stereotypes? I How does class-consciousness inflect realist representations of American life? What classes of people are depicted in realist texts? Overview Questions Learning Objectives How do regionalist writings reflect the distinct cultures and experiences of different ethnic groups? I How do realist texts represent gender? Are women authors’ interpretations of realism different from male authors’ interpretations? How? I After students have viewed the video, read the headnotes and literary selections in The Norton Anthology of American Literature, and explored related archival materials on the American Passages Web site, they should be able to 2
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- 1. understand the basic tenets of realism;
- 2. discuss the impact on American literature and culture of regionalist writers’ emphasis on geographical settings and distinctive customs;
- 3. discuss the impact of race and gender on representations of regional cultures;
- 4. discuss the cultural values and assumptions that inform phonetic representations of racial and regional dialects in late-nineteenth-century American literature.
Midway through his adventures, Huck Finn comes to the “strange and unregular” onclusion that telling the truth might be the best way both to narrate his experiences and to accomplish his own ends. In a speech that is characteristically simultaneously humorous and profound, Mark Twain has Huck meditate on the nature of truth: I says to myself, I reckon a body that ups and tells the truth when he is in a tight place, is taking considerable many resks, though I ain’t had no experience, and can’t say for certain; but it looks so to me, anyway; and yet here’s a case where I’m blest if it don’t look to me like the truth is better, and actuly safer, than a lie. I must lay it by in my mind, and think it over some time or other, it’s so kind of strange and unregular. Huck’s radical decision to “up and tell the truth” despite the “resks” epitomizes the stylistic and thematic transformations shaping American literature during the second half of the nineteenth century. A new commitment to the accurate representation of American life as it was experienced by ordinary Americans infused literature with a new “realist” aesthetic. Realism was characterized by its uncompromising literal representations of daily life, and by its resistance to the emotional extravagance and fanciful settings that had characterized Romantic and sentimental fiction.
This passion for finding and presenting the truth led many American practitioners of realism to explore characters, places, and events that had never before seemed appropriate subject matter for literature. American audiences, for their part, evinced a new willingness to read bout unrefined and even ugly subjects in the interest of gaining authentic accounts of the world around them. Many writers expressed their realist aesthetic by emphasizing the particularities of geographic settings, evoking the distinctive customs, speech, and culture of specific regions of the United States in their work. This attention to the peculiarities of place flourished after the Civil War, as Americans began to conceive of themselves as part of a single, unified nation and as curiosity grew about regions of the country that had once seemed too far off and strange to matter. Regional realism may also have developed as an act of nostalgia and conservation in response to the rapid postwar industrialization and homogenization that was threatening older, traditional ways of life.
By chronicling the specific details of regional culture, regional realism preserved a record of ways of life and habits of speech that were suddenly in danger of disappearing as a result of the newspapers, railroads, and mass-produced consumer goods that were standardizing American culture. Many regionalist writers became accomplished at transcribing the authentic rhythms and idioms of local dialect in their efforts to make their characters’ dialogue mimic the way people really talked. Literalized, phonetic spellings forced readers to pronounce words as speakers of a regional dialect would pronounce them. A commitment to capturing accurately the realities and peculiarities of regional culture distinguishes all of the authors featured in Unit 8, “Regional Realism: Depicting the Local in American Literature, 1865–1900. As they recorded and commented on the distinctive speech and customs that distinguished specific geographical areas, these writers also struggled with the role of class and gender in local life and in the construction of American identity. This unit explores the regional representations of a wide variety of late-nineteenth-century texts, including works composed by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), Bret Harte, Joel Chandler Harris, Sarah Orne Jewett, Kate Chopin, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, Charles W. Chesnutt, Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa), Alexander Posey, and ? Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin). The unit provides contextual background and classroom materials designed to explore the way these writers represented the distinguishing characteristics of American life in the South, in the West, in New
U N I T 1 1 , I M O D R U N T S TR PO VRETRRV I IETW N S T E R C I O O A S 3 England, and on the Great Plains. The video for Unit 8 focuses on three influential practitioners of regional realism in the South: Mark Twain, Charles W. Chesnutt, and Kate Chopin. Twain used realism and regional dialect in his masterpiece, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, to challenge readers to come to new conclusions about the role of race and class in America. His complex portrait of race relations in the 1840s continues to inspire controversy. Charles W. Chesnutt adopted the regional realist style to explore the contradictions of life on the “color line” between black and white society and to challenge racial stereotypes. Kate Chopin depicted the exotic culture of Creole and Cajun Louisiana, offering a controversial exploration of the constraints placed on women’s individuality and sexuality in the process.
All of these writers were committed to providing realistic representations of their local cultures and to constructing complicated, believable characters who faced complex moral dilemmas about the nature of their American identities. In its coverage of these writers and texts, the video introduces students to the basic tenets of the aesthetic of regional realism and foregrounds the movement’s relationship to the social and political challenges facing post–Civil War America. How do these texts both reflect and construct cultural values? How do regionalist writings portray the distinct cultures and experiences of different ethnic groups? How do they explore issues of gender? How do regional realist texts record the linguistic specificity of regional speech? Why were representations of dialect so popular in late-nineteenth-century America? In what ways did regional texts participate in the construction of a broader, more general “American” character?
Unit 8 helps answer these questions by offering suggestions on how to connect these writers to their cultural contexts, to other units in the series, and to other key writers of the era. The curriculum materials expand the video’s introduction to regional realism by exploring writers who represented different regions and different concerns about class and ethnicity, such as Bret Harte (who focused on the culture of the Old West in California), Joel Chandler Harris (a white writer who recorded the dialect and folktales of African American slave ? culture), and Zitkala-Sa (a Sioux woman who found herself caught between European American customs and traditional Indian culture). The video, the archive, and the curriculum mate- ials situate these writers within several of the historical contexts and artistic movements that shaped their texts: (1) the development of “parlor culture” and ideals of domestic gentility; (2) Native American oral and visual autobiographical expressions; (3) the role of journalistic ideals in the development of the realist aesthetic; (4) the centrality of the “trickster” figure to expressions of ethnic identity; (5) the importance of developments in the study of anatomy and photography in visual expressions of realism. The archive and the curriculum materials suggest how these authors and texts relate to those covered in other American Passages units: How have American ideas about realistic representation and the possibility of recording “truth” changed over time?
How have realist ideals shaped contemporary aesthetics? How did the use of dialect impact later authors’ dialogue and poetry? How have American ideas about the relationship between specific regions and the country as a whole changed over time? Student Overview In the second half of the nineteenth century, a new commitment to the truthful, accurate representation of American life as it was experienced by ordinary individuals infused literature with a new “realist” aesthetic. Realism was characterized by its uncompromising, literal representations of the particularities of the material world and the human condition. This passion for finding and presenting the truth led many American practitioners of realism to explore characters, places, and events that had never before seemed appropriate subject matter for literature. American audiences, for their part, evinced a new willingness to read about unrefined and even ugly or distasteful subjects in the interest of gaining authentic accounts of the world around them. Many writers expressed their realist aesthetic by emphasizing the particularities of geographic settings, evoking the distinctive customs, speech, and culture of specific regions of the United States in their work. This attention to the peculiarities of place flourished after the Civil War, perhaps as a celebration of the new unification of a country long 4
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M divided by political, racial, and religious differences. Regional realism may also have developed in response to the rapid postwar industrialization and homogenization that was destroying older, traditional ways of life. By chronicling the specific details of regional culture, regional realism preserved a record of ways of life and habits of speech that were suddenly in danger of disappearing as a result of the newspapers, railroads, and mass-produced consumer goods that were standardizing American culture. Many regionalist writers became accomplished at transcribing the authentic rhythms and idioms of local dialect in their efforts to make their characters’ dialogue mimic the way people really talked. Literalized, phonetic spellings forced readers to pronounce words as speakers of a regional dialect would pronounce them. A commitment to accurately capturing the realities and peculiarities of regional culture distinguishes all of the authors featured in Unit 8, “Regional Realism: Depicting the Local in American Literature, 1865–1900. As they recorded and commented on the distinctive speech and customs that distinguished specific geographical areas, these writ- ers also struggled with the role of class and gender in local life and in the construction of American identity. As the video for Unit 8 makes clear, Mark Twain, Charles W. Chesnutt, and Kate Chopin adopted very different strategies in their efforts to provide realistic depictions of regional culture. Twain used realism and regional dialect in his masterpiece, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, to challenge readers to come to new conclusions about the role of race and class in America. His complex evocation of racial tension continues to inspire controversy.
Charles W. Chesnutt adopted the regional realist style to explore the contradictions of life on the “color line” between black and white society and to challenge racial stereotypes. Kate Chopin depicted the exotic culture of Creole and Cajun Louisiana, offering a controversial exploration of the constraints placed on women’s individuality and sexual-ity in the process. Twain, Chesnutt, and Chopin, like all of the writers featured in Unit 8, were committed to providing realistic representations of their local cultures and to constructing complicated, believable characters who faced complex moral dilemmas about the nature of their American identities. Video Overview Authors covered: Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), Charles W. Chesnutt, Kate Chopin ? Who’s interviewed: Jocelyn Chadwick, associate professor of education (Harvard University); Emory Elliott, professor of English (University of California, Riverside); Bruce Michelson, professor of English (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign); Nell Irvin Painter, professor of American MYHISTORYS!!! (Princeton University) ? Points covered:
- Introduction to the emergence of new, realistic sounding voices in American literature after the Civil War. Writers who represented regions, classes, and races that had not traditionally been given a voice in American literature demanded representation in the popular imagination and the right to satirize and criticize America in new ways. The American South was an important site for the formation of the literary movement, often called “regional realism. ”
- Samuel Clemens—better known as Mark Twain— transformed American literature with his skilled representation of regional dialect and his willingness to confront Americans with the difficult issues of racial and class inequality. Favoring the real over the fantastic or the romantic, Twain could make readers uncomfortable with his unsparing representations of the often unpleasant reality of the human condition. At the same time, his satiric portraits of American life often charm readers with their humor and comedy. His masterpiece, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, continues to create controversy for its vivid evocation of racial tensions.
- Charles W. Chesnutt, a writer of mixed African American and white descent, created psychologically complex characters and representations of vernacular speech to challenge American stereotypes about race. His stories are often preoccupied with the problems
VIDEOOVERVIEW 5 Video Overview (continued) faced by people of mixed blood who lived on what he called “the color line” between black and white society. • Kate Chopin set her stories and novels within the distinctive culture of Louisiana Creole and Cajun society. Exploring the frustration of women bound by restrictive social conventions, her work is feminist in its implications. Chopin’s frank depictions of both female sexual passion and discontent within marriage made her work extremely controversial in her own time. These southern practitioners of regional realism rejected idealistic romanticism in order to bear accurate witness to the reality of the world around them. In the process, they created complex characters faced with challenging moral dilemmas. Their work opened up new voices and new insights that democratized American literature and transformed national conceptions of what it means to be American. come to new conclusions about the role of race and class in America. His complex evocation of racial tension continues to inspire controversy. Charles W. Chesnutt adopted the regional realist style to explore the contradictions of life on the “color line” between black and white society and to challenge racial stereotypes. Kate Chopin depicted the exotic culture of Creole and Cajun Louisiana, offering a controversial exploration of the constraints placed on women’s individuality and sexuality in the process. All of these writers were committed to providing realistic representations of their local cultures and to constructing complicated, believable characters who faced complex moral dilemmas about the nature of their American identities. What to think about while watching: How do these authors challenge Americans to grapple with difficult issues regarding social class, region, and race? How do these writers react against romantic conventions to create a new aesthetic in American literature? Why is the realistic representation of dialect so important in latenineteenth-century American literature? How do these depictions of regional life expand traditional ideas about American identity? How did the regional realist movement impact subsequent American fiction? Tying the video to the unit content: Unit 8 expands on the issues outlined in the video to further explore the scope and impact of regional realism on American literature and culture in areas outside of the South. The curriculum materials offer background on Native American, African American, and European American writers who represent the language, customs, and cultures of New England, California, and the midwestern plains. The unit offers contextual background to expand on the video’s introduction to the political issues, historical events, and literary styles that shaped these realistic depictions of life in regional America.
• Preview the video: American culture was changing rapidly in the post–Civil War era: new technologies such as the telegraph and the railroad bound the continent together, postwar racial tensions brought the issue of the “color line” to the forefront of American consciousness, and a new commitment to realistic representation transformed literary style. Writers responded to these cultural developments by producing texts that paid close attention to the specifics of people and place in particular regions of the country, evoking the distinctive culture of areas of America that had not been previously represented. The South was an important site for the development of this movement, often called “regional realism. ” Mark Twain used realism and regional dialect in his masterpiece, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, to challenge readers to 6
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR THE VIDEO How do place and time shape the authors’ works and our understanding of them? What is an American? How does American literature create conceptions of the American experience and identity? What characteristics of a literary work have made it influential over time? Comprehension Questions What political and social problems faced the American South in the period after the Civil War known as Reconstruction? What is the “plantation myth”? How do the featured southern regionalist writers challenge and transform ideas about life in the American South? What is the difference between Chopin’s portrait of mixed-race people in “Desiree’s Baby” and Chesnutt’s representations of mixed-race people in Cincinnati in “The Wife of His Youth”? What different attitudes and assumptions about race do these writers bring to their texts? What is dialect? How did post–Civil War writers represent vernacular speech? Context Questions What role does the Mississippi River play in Mark Twain’s depiction of Huck and Jim’s journey southward in Adventures of Huckleberry Finn? What are the implications of the fact that they continue to drift further and further south over the course of their adventure? How do Twain’s depictions of the culture of the border state of Missouri compare to Chopin’s representations of life in the Deep South in Louisiana? Why did the accurate representation of dialect play such an important role in regional realism? How did these writers’ innovations in the creation of realistic-sounding dialogue affect later American literature? How does Twain’s characterization of African Americans compare to Chesnutt’s characterization of African Americans? How do both authors challenge and participate in racial stereotypes? How did their depictions of African American speech and culture influence later African American writers? Exploratory Questions What made Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Chopin’s The Awakening such controversial novels, both in their own time and in ours? How did their representations of southern culture unsettle assumptions and cause discomfort in their readers? How does their work continue to challenge readers? Ernest Hemingway claimed that all subsequent American literature derived from Huckleberry Finn. What did Hemingway mean by this claim? Why did he see Twain’s novel as so foundational to American identity and to American literary traditions?
V I D E O Q U E S T I O N S 7 TIMELINE Texts 1860s Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), The Innocents Abroad (1869) Bret Harte, “The Outcasts of Poker Flat,” “Plain Language from Truthful James” (1869) Contexts United States Secret Service established (1860) Transcontinental telegraph service established between New York and San Francisco (1861) Civil War (1861–65) Homestead Act (1862) Emancipation Act (1863) President Abraham Lincoln assassinated (1865) Ku Klux Klan formed (1866) First elevated railroad begins service in New York City (1867) Fire destroys large portions of Chicago (1871) Yellowstone National Park established (1872) Battle of Little Bighorn (Custer’s Last Stand) (1876) Alexander Graham Bell invents the telephone (1876) Edison patents the phonograph (1878) President James Garfield assassinated (1881) American Red Cross founded (1881) Chinese Exclusion Act (1882) American Federation of Labor launched (1886) Coca-Cola invented (1886) 1870s Bret Harte, “The Luck of Roaring Camp” and Other Sketches (1870) Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876) Sarah Orne Jewett, Deephaven (1877) 1880s Joel Chandler Harris, “The Wonderful Tar-Baby Story,” “Mr. Rabbit Grossly Deceives Mr. Fox,” Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings (1881) Sarah Orne Jewett, The White Heron (1886) Charles W. Chesnutt, “The Goophered Grapevine” (1887) Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), The Prince and the Pauper (1882), Life on the Mississippi (1883), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889) Mary E. Wilkins Freeman, “The Revolt of ‘Mother,’ ” “A New England Nun” (1891) Kate Chopin, “At the ’Cadian Ball” (1892), “Desiree’s Baby,” At Fault (1893), Bayou Folk (1894), A Night in Acadie (1897), The Awakening (1899) Sarah Orne Jewett, The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896) Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), Following the Equator (1897) Charles W. Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman, “The Wife of His Youth” and Other Stories of the Color Line (1899) 1890s Massacre at Wounded Knee, South Dakota (1890) Daughters of the American Revolution founded (1890) Pan-American Union formed (1890) National American Woman Suffrage Association founded (1890) Immigration Center established on Ellis Island (1892) World Columbian Exposition, Chicago (1893) Hawaii becomes a U. S. Protectorate (1893) Klondike Gold Rush (1896) Spanish-American War (1898) 8
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M TIMELINE (continued) Texts 1900s Sarah Orne Jewett, “The Foreigner” (1900) ? Zitkala-Sa (Gertrude Simmons Bonnin), “Impressions of an Indian Childhood,” “The School Days of an Indian Girl,” “An Indian Teacher Among Indians” (1900) Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa), Indian Boyhood (1902) Alexander Posey, letters of Fus Fixico (1902–08), “Hotgun on the Death of Yadeka Harjo” (1908) Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa), The Soul of an Indian (1911), The Indian Today (1915), From the Deep Woods to Civilization (1916) Contexts President William McKinley assassinated (1901) Orville and Wilbur Wright achieve first powered flight, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (1903) International Workers of the World union founded (1905) First radio broadcast (1906) Ford Model T goes into production (1908) 1910s First movie studio opens in Hollywood (1911) World War I begins in Europe (1914) Panama Canal opens (1914) D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation (1915) United States enters World War I (1917) 18th Amendment to the Constitution (Prohibition) (1919)
T I M E L I N E 9 AUTHOR/TEXT REVIEW Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) (1835–1910) Samuel L. Clemens, better known by his pen name “Mark Twain,” continues to enjoy a reputation, already attained by the end of his lifetime, as an icon of American literature. As such, he and his most enduringly popular novel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, have been subjects of high praise and, at times, subjects of probing questions about the cultural assumptions that shape definitions of “literature” and of “American-ness” at different historical moments. Indeed, Twain’s fame stems in large part from his ability to raise questions about American identity and values in humorous ways through his writings, though they are often tinged with bitterness and despair. Twain’s life provided subjects and sources for many of his works. Born in Missouri, he grew up in the Mississippi river town of Hannibal, which, thinly disguised as St. Petersburg, became the boyhood home of his most famous characters, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. Clemens himself did not enjoy a long childhood. Following the death of his father, he left school at age twelve and worked for the next several years as a printer’s apprentice to help support his mother and four siblings. During this time, he also began to try his hand at writing. In 1853 he embarked on a three-year period of travel as a journeyman printer, which took him through the Midwest and as far east as New York. This adventure was succeeded by an apprenticeship and subsequent job as a riverboat pilot, an exciting and lucrative experience that he would later recount in his 1883 memoir Life on the Mississippi.
When the beginning of the Civil War ended Mississippi riverboat commerce in 1861, Twain enlisted for a brief period in the Confederate militia and then spent the next several years wandering through the West. He entered into a number of failed get-richquick schemes with his brother in the Nevada Territory (the subject of his 1872 memoir Roughing It) and published satirical sketches for western newspapers, first as an occasional contributor and then as a popular regular reporter and correspondent. In these pieces, he developed his skilled ear for dialect, establishing what would become his trademark humorous style of capturing the particularities of time, place, and personality by merely seeming to report what characters say in their own words, however unpopular or crude the sentiments. Following the convention of the age, these pieces appeared anonymously or under a pseudonym, for which Clemens chose “Mark Twain,” the river pilot’s term for a safe depth for passage. Though Twain satirized genteel convention and corruption in print, he aspired to higher social status, vast riches, and greater fame for himself. He established his reputation in 1869 with the publication of The Innocents Abroad, a popular book about his experiences on the first large-scale American tourist excursion to Europe after the Civil War. Soon thereafter, in 1870, he married Olivia Langdon, the daughter of a wealthy oal merchant, and moved first to Buffalo and then into a fashionable mansion in Hartford, Connecticut, where his life began to assume the trappings of gentility. During the 1870s  Anonymous, Mark Twain, Captain (1895), courtesy of the Mark Twain House, Hartford, CT. 10
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M and 1880s, Twain began producing the novels for which he is best remembered today, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), a simultaneously anti-sentimental and nostalgic tale of Missouri boyhood; The Prince and the Pauper (1882), a popular historical romance; A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (1889), a social and political burlesque in the form of a parody of the historical novel; and, most notably, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885). Huckleberry Finn, his greatest work, is remarkable above all for conjuring up a vivid sense of a time and place, for using humor and pathos to pose crucial questions about race relations and the legacy of slavery, and for experimenting with narration and dialect. Through the naive perspective of Huck, a first-person boy narrator who speaks in slang and dialect, Twain exposes social inhibitions and injustices, the gaps between what the American people are supposed to be and what they are. Twain’s literary output dropped off in the remaining two decades of his life, during which time he lived abroad with his family for substantial periods. Those works that he did produce, such as Following the Equator (1897), a memoir of a trip around the world, reflect a new concern with global affairs, as well as an increasingly caustic and pessimistic tone. Nonetheless, during the final years of his life, he found himself celebrated everywhere, attaining fame at home and abroad as a kind of living literary institution and firmly securing a place for himself in the MYHISTORYS!!! of American letters.
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Twain wrote the first sixteen chapters of Huckleberry Finn in the Centennial year 1876. He then found himself frustrated and uncertain about how to finish the story, abandoning it until 1883. Ask students to think about the relevance of the fact that this novel was begun on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. How does the book comment on the Declaration’s ideals of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”? Ask your class to think about the breaking point at Chapter 16, given the information that Twain left his draft at that point for eight years. Why might he have found himself frustrated and uncertain about the trajectory of the story at that point? How did he resolve his problem? How does Huck and Jim’s relationship change during the Grangerford and Shepherdson sequence? I Twain’s repeated use of the word “nigger” throughout Huckleberry Finn has caused controversy since its publication and can make it a troubling book to teach. Parents and administrators angry about what they perceive as the book’s racism have called for its removal from middle school and high school curricula. Ask your students to think about why Twain used this pejorative term—and it was considered pejorative both in his own time and in the historical period in which the novel is set—in a novel that many readers have understood to be an indictment of racism. What effect might Twain have been aiming for? Should we understand his use of the word as itself an example of racism? Is there a distinction to be made between Twain’s Edward Windsor Kemble, Huckleberry Finn (1884), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-98767]. Shown with a shotgun and a rabbit, Huck Finn epitomizes the all-American traits of self-sufficiency and independence in this frontispiece illustration for the 1885 edition of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Tom Sawyer’s Comrade). 3777] Anonymous, Mark Twain, Captain (1895), courtesy of the Mark Twain House, Hartford, CT. A riverboat pilot in his youth, Samuel L. Clemens chose the pseudonym “Mark Twain,” a term meaning safe depth for passage. He used realism and regional dialect in his writing to challenge readers to come to new conclusions about the roles of race and class in America.  Anonymous, Samuel L. Clemens about the time he wrote Huckleberry Finn (c. 1885), courtesy of the Mark Twain House, Hartford, CT. During the 1870s and 1880s Twain began producing his best-known novels, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), The Prince and the Pauper (1882), and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885).  M A R K T W A I N 1 Anonymous, Mark Twain in front of boyhood home, Hannibal, Missouri (1902), courtesy of the Mark Twain House, Hartford, CT. Born in Missouri, Samuel L. Clemens grew up in the Mississippi river town of Hannibal, which, thinly disguised as St. Petersburg, became the boyhood home of Twain’s most famous characters, Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn.  Anonymous, Young Sam Clemens [Mark Twain] (n. d. ), courtesy of the Mark Twain House, Hartford, CT. This early photograph of Samuel L. Clemens reflects many of the ideals of realism, including the desire to document uncompromising, literal representations of the material world and the human condition. 7838] Jocelyn Chadwick, Interview: “Controversy in the Reception of Twain’s Huckleberry Finn” (2001), courtesy of Annenberg Media and American Passages. Jocelyn Chadwick, assistant professor of education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, speaks on the controversial aspects of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.  Bruce Michelson, Interview: “Stages of Controversy in Huckleberry Finn” (2001), courtesy of Annenberg Media and American Passages. Bruce Michelson, professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, speaks about the evolution of the controversy surrounding Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn.  stand on slavery and his stand on racism? What is the impact of the presence of this word on our understanding of the novel today?
Q U E S T I O N S Comprehension: Why are Huck and Jim on the raft in Huckleberry Finn? What life experiences do these two characters have in common? How are they different from one another? Context: According to Twain, what are James Fenimore Cooper’s “literary offenses”? How does Twain’s assessment reflect his own commitment to “realism” as an artistic ideal? Is his analysis a fair indictment of Cooper? Context: How would you describe the narrative structure of Huckleberry Finn? Are some episodes in Huck and Jim’s journey more important than other episodes? Does the novel have a climax? If so, what do you consider to be the climactic moment? Context: Unlike Joel Chandler Harris, Charles W. Chesnutt, and Sarah Orne Jewett, Twain narrates the entire action of his novel through Huck’s vernacular speech. Why do you think he does not employ an educated, urbane frame narrator like so many other authors who experimented with representing regional dialects? What roles do the frame narrators play in the stories by Harris, Chesnutt, and Jewett? Exploration: In the past century and a half, many schools and libraries have banned Huckleberry Finn or have contemplated banning it. What makes this book so controversial? How might the reasons for Americans’ discomfort with the novel have changed over time? How does Huckleberry Finn compare to other books that have been banned for one reason or another over the years (The Catcher in the Rye, Lolita, Ulysses, even Harry Potter)? For what reasons, if any, should a book be removed from a school’s reading list or library? Exploration: Critics disagree about Twain’s portrait of Jim in Huckleberry Finn. How does the characterization of Jim participate in common nineteenth-century stereotypes of African Americans? How does Jim compare to some of the African American characters and writers discussed in Unit 7? Are there ways that Jim challenges racist stereotypes? Bret Harte (1836 –1902) At the height of his career, in the 1860s and 1870s, Bret Harte was one of the most famous and most highly paid American writers. His popular accounts of life in Gold Rush–era California, including short stories such as “The Luck of Roaring Camp” and “The Outcasts of Poker Flat,” seized the public imagination and made him an international celebrity. Harte’s invention of prototypical “western” characters—the shady prospector, the cynical gambler, the tough cowboy, the prostitute with a heart of gold—created the mythology through which Americans learned to understand the culture of the “Old West. ” 12
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M Combining realistic descriptions of the specific regional characteristics of California life with sentimental plots, Harte hit on a formula that delighted nineteenth-century readers and continues to influence American narratives of the West. Born in Albany, New York, Francis Bret Harte was tutored at home by his schoolteacher father, Henry Harte. When Henry died in 1845, the family relocated first to New York City and then to San Francisco when Harte’s mother married Colonel Andrew Williams, an early mayor of Oakland, California. During his first six years in California, Harte drifted from job to job, working as a teacher, miner, and stagecoach guard for Wells Fargo. He ultimately found his calling as a printer’s apprentice, journalist, and editorial assistant at the small newspapers The Humboldt Times and The Northern Californian. By 1865, Harte had graduated to positions with larger newspapers and magazines of San Francisco, eventually serving as the editor of the weekly Californian, where he commissioned pieces from the thenunknown writer Samuel Clemens. In 1868, Harte was hired as the first editor of the literary magazine Overland Monthly, a position that catapulted him to national fame when he used the magazine as the venue for his best stories and his popular poem “Plain Language from Truthful James,” usually called “The Heathen Chinee. ” Recognized as one of the most popular and marketable writers in America after his stint at the Overland Monthly, Harte received a deluge of offers of editorial positions and professional opportunities across the country. In 1871 he signed a one-year contract for $10,000 (a record-breaking salary for a writer at that time) with the Atlantic Monthly in Boston. Harte had promised the magazine a minimum of twelve stories and poems, but, distracted by his status as a celebrity, he grew careless about meeting his obligations. When the Atlantic refused to renew his contract at the end of the year, Harte found himself suddenly in need of a new source of income. To fill the gap, he began lecturing and writing plays, but his work never again achieved the success or acclaim he had come to expect. He eventually used his connections in the political world to attain diplomatic posts with the consulates in Germany and Scotland, jobs he held until he was relieved of his positions for “inattention to duty” in 1885. He lived out the rest of his life in London, where he became the permanent guest of the wealthy Van de Velde family. Harte remained a prolific writer until his death, publishing a volume of short stories almost yearly. While his fiction was favorably received in Europe, American critics generally dismissed his later work as repetitive, formulaic, and overly sentimental. Although Harte’s reputation declined dramatically in the twentieth century, scholars have recently begun to reassess his important contributions to the development of regionalism and the genre of western fiction.  Louis Charles McClure, The Gold Miner (c. 1890), courtesy of Denver Public Library, Western History Collection.
T E A C H I N G T I P S I Harte’s literary reputation has suffered for what critics have historically understood as his sentimentality and romanticism. Recently, B R E T H A R T E 13 H A R T E W E B A R C H I V E Emanuel Gottlieb Leutze, Westward the Course of Empire Takes Its Way (1861), courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC. This painting’s title became a popular motto for Manifest Destiny in America after 1850. Portraits of Captain William Clark and Daniel Boone flank a depiction of San Francisco Bay at the bottom of the image.  Albert Bierstadt, Valley of the Yosemite (1864), courtesy of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Rerproduced with permission. © Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Gift of Martha C. Karolik for the M. and M. Karolik Collection of American Paintings, 1825–1865, 47. 236. The romantic grandeur and luminism of Bierstadt’s western landscapes reflect Hudson River School influences. Realist writers like Bret Harte sought to imbue the same landscapes with the gritty realities of frontier life.  Louis Charles McClure, The Gold Miner (c. 1890), courtesy of the Denver Public Library, Western History Collection. The discovery of gold and silver in the American West drew fortune seekers from all over the world. Miners often served as the vanguard of American expansion.  Anonymous, Montgomery Street, San Francisco, 1852, courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZ6255762]. Rapid, mainly white immigration during the Gold Rush brought California to statehood in 1850 as a “free state” that forbade slavery. Yet demand for land and forced labor caused a genocidal-scale population decline among California Indians.  “Harte’s Poems” (1871), courtesy of the Cornell University Making of America Digital Collection. This January 1871 review of Bret Harte’s Poems reflects the way Harte’s work helped shape notions of American manhood.  Currier and Ives, Gold Mining in California (c. 1871), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZC2-1755]. This lithograph presents a romantic and sanitized portrayal of life in the gold fields.  owever, some literary scholars have claimed that Harte has been misunderstood and that his stories are much more cynical and ironic than has been appreciated. Ask students to think about whether they would characterize “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” as an example of sentimentality (you might refer back to Unit 7 for a discussion of sentimentality) or as participating in a more clearly realist tradition. How ironic is the tone of Harte’s narration in this story? What is the relationship between irony and realism? I Have your students write articles for the Poker Flat newspaper in which they report on the fate of the “outcasts” from the perspective of a Poker Flat inhabitant.
Q U E S T I O N S Comprehension: Who are the central characters in “The Outcasts of Poker Flat”? How do they construct or participate in stereotypes about characters from the Old West? How do they challenge these stereotypes? Context: Bret Harte was a mentor to Mark Twain, giving him some of his first writing assignments and, according to Twain, teaching him a great deal about his craft: “He trimmed and schooled me patiently until he changed me from an awkward utterer of coarse grotesqueness to a writer of paragraphs and chapters. ” Later, however, Twain attacked Harte’s work as overly romantic, unbelievable, and repetitive. How is Harte’s work similar to Twain’s? What ideals and narrative strategies do they share? How are they different? Exploration: Compare the plot and characters of “The Outcasts of Poker Flat” to the plot and characters of one or more Western movies (Stagecoach, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Unforgiven, or The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, for example). How do subsequent American portraits of the Old West draw from Harte’s depictions? What familiar ideas about the Old West seem to start in Harte’s work? Exploration: In the video for Unit 12 you will encounter two more key sentimental scenes in realist fiction: the breast-feeding of the dying man by Rose of Sharon in The Grapes of Wrath and the poisoning of Alejo by crop dusters. How do these compare to Mother Shipton’s self-sacrifice in “The Outcasts of Poker Flat”? How do you see the relationship between sentimentality and realism? Joel Chandler Harris (1848–1908) Most famous for his creation of the black folk figure Uncle Remus, Joel Chandler Harris was also a journalist, humorist, and novelist. Born in rural Georgia to a single mother, Harris suffered poverty and social ostracism in his childhood. Many of his biographers suggest that his early insecurities led to lifelong shyness, which he compensated for by writing humorous stories and playing practical jokes. At thirteen, Harris was taken on as an apprentice typesetter at The Countryman, a weekly newspaper run by Joseph Addison Turner on 14
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M his large plantation, called Turnwold. There, Harris received training in printing as well as what he later termed “a liberal education,” enjoying the enefits of the extensive Turnwold library and receiving informal instruction from Turner. He also spent a great deal of time learning from the slaves on the Turnwold plantation, absorbing their stories, songs, and myths. Later, Harris drew on these experiences to compose his sketches and stories of African American life. In 1864, Turnwold was attacked and destroyed by the advancing Union army, and by 1866, with his finances in ruins, Joseph Turner was forced to dismiss his young typesetter and close The Countryman. Harris found employment in Georgia cities, working as a typesetter, journalist, humorist, and editor for a variety of newspapers. In the late 1870s Harris began publishing a series of sketches written in African American dialect for the Atlanta Constitution, eventually using this forum to develop the character of Uncle Remus. A black slave who tells African American legends and folktales to a young white listener, Uncle Remus quickly achieved popularity with readers in the South as well as the North, where Harris’s columns were syndicated in urban newspapers. Admirers praised the “accuracy” and “authenticity” of Harris’s rendering of African American dialect and recounting of traditional African animal fables about trickster characters such as Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox. Building on the popularity of his newspaper columns, Harris published a book-length collection of Uncle Remus stories in 1880, titled Uncle Remus: His Songs and Sayings. The book sold out three printings in its initial months of publication, and, as late as 1904, Harris reported that it continued to sell four thousand copies yearly. Capitalizing on his success, Harris followed Songs and Sayings with several additional collections of Uncle Remus’s animal fables. He also wrote local-color stories and novels focusing mainly on life among southern blacks and impoverished whites, but these works never attained the success and popularity of the Remus stories. Harris also continued to work as a journalist until 1902, becoming a self-styled champion of reconciliation between the North and the South and between blacks and whites. In some respects, his ideas about race were enlightened for his time: Harris was a proponent of black education and argued that individuals should be judged according to their personal qualities rather than their race. At the same time, however, he perpetuated racial stereotypes in his writings. Literary critics have frequently pointed out the latent racism of the Uncle Remus tales, especially Harris’s stereotyped portrait of Remus himself as a “contented darky” with nothing but happy memories of his life as a plantation slave. On the other hand, the trickster tales that Uncle Remus narrates—with their subversive focus on the triumph of seemingly weak  George Harper Houghton, Family of slaves at the Gaines’ house (1861), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZC4-4575].  Robertson, Seibert & Shearman, Oh Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny (c. 1859), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZC4-2356]. J O E L C H A N D L E R H A R R I S 15 H A R R I S W E B A R C H I V E George Harper Houghton, Family of slaves at the Gaines’ house (1861), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZC4-4575]. Plans like the Design for $600 Cottage, featured in the archive , reveal that a parlor was perceived as necessary in even the most humble home; yet for many slaves merely having a large-enough home on the plantation on which they worked proved problematic.  Robertson, Seibert & Shearman, Oh Carry Me Back to Ole Virginny (c. 859), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZC4-2356]. The image on this tobacco package label is based on a detail from Eastman Johnson’s painting Negro Life at the South (also called Old Kentucky Home). Images of happy slaves belied the true working and living conditions faced by slaves in the antebellum South.  Frances Benjamin Johnston, Joel Chandler Harris (c. 1890–1910), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division [LC-USZ62103981]. After writing Uncle Remus and His Friends, Joel Chandler Harris continued to work as a journalist until 1902, becoming a self-styled champion of reconciliation between the North and the South and between blacks and whites. In some respects, his ideas about race were enlightened for his time: Harris was a proponent of black education and the fair judgment of people regardless of skin color.  A. B. Frost, Brer B’ar Tied Hard en Fas (1892), courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Co. Illustration of Brer Rabbit tying Brer B’ar to a tree, taken from Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus and His Friends: Old Plantation Stories, Songs, and Ballads with Sketches of Negro Characters. As trickster tales, the African American fables published by Harris contain a subtle critique of oppression.  characters over their aggressors—are characterized by poetic irony and a subtle critique of oppression and prejudice (a critique that Harris may never have fully appreciated). Whatever his intentions, Harris’s work is undeniably important as a record of traditional African American folktales that might otherwise have been lost to MYHISTORYS!!!.
T E A C H I N G T I P S I Students will probably have difficulty with Harris’s rendering of Uncle Remus’s dialect at first, but you should make it clear that such problems are to be expected and that the tales demand thorough and careful reading. It might be worthwhile to provide a gloss on a few of the more frequently used terms, such as “de” for “the,” “gwyne” for “going,” and “sezee” for “he says. ” You might ask them to compare a page of Harris’s dialect to a page of Mark Twain’s. When Twain writes in dialect, portraying the speech of Jim, what are the differences in strategy? Which works better for a modern reader? After students have become more comfortable reading Harris’s and Twain’s representation of African American speech, ask them to think about why these renditions of southern black dialect might have been so popular with white northern audiences in the late nineteenth century. I Harris always insisted that he did not invent the Uncle Remus tales but instead simply recorded the legends and stories he collected from African Americans. Although he obviously filtered and edited the tales, he would not publish any story that he could not authenticate as part of traditional black folklore. He even claimed that the central character of Uncle Remus “was not an invention of my own, but a human syndicate, three or four old darkies I had known. I just walloped them together into one person and called him Uncle Remus. ” After providing students with this background information, ask them to consider the implications of Harris’s claims. How does his status as a recorder of folklore change our understanding of him as a writer? Should we read the Remus tales as faithful transcriptions of the stories as their black authors orally constructed them? To what extent might Harris have changed the stories in the act of recording them? Should we understand Uncle Remus as an “authentic” portrait of the African Amer-icans Harris knew? Why might Harris have been invested in claiming this kind of accuracy and authenticity for his work? Q U E S T I O N S Comprehension: Which animals are weak and which are strong in the Uncle Remus stories? How does Brer Rabbit succeed in reversing traditional power relations in his encounters with supposedly stronger animals? What qualities enable Brer Rabbit’s success? Comprehension: Examine the frame narratives surrounding the animal fables (in a story that describes the conditions of its own 16
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M HALLMARKS OF BLACK ENGLISH Black English Examples Sentences to have students transcribe in Standard English Predominantly active sentences with a reiteration of the subject Brer Rabbit say he can’t walk. Brer Fox say he tote ’im. Brer Rabbit say how? Brer Fox say in his arms. Brer Rabbit come prancin’ ’long twel he spy de Tar-Baby, en den he fotch up on his behime legs like he wuz ’stonished. De Tar-Baby, she sot dar, she did, en Brer Fox, he lay low. Den one er de chilluns runned away fum de quarters one day, en died de nex’ week. “Youer stuck up, dat’s w’at you is,” says Brer Rabbit. Use of plural –s in addition to other plural markers mens Verb “to be”: “is” and “are” exchanged or linking verb “to be” omitted altogether. Use of “ain’t” for “isn’t” or “aren’t” Tense indicated by context rather than verb endings (“ed” or “s” dropped) Is you deaf? W’at you doin’ dar? Tar-Baby ain’t sayin’ nothin’. Some say Jedge B’ar come ’long en loosed ’im. Brer Rabbit say he can’t walk. Brer Fox say he tote ’im. Brer Rabbit say how? Brer Fox say in his arms. W’at you doin’ dar, Settin’ in de cornder Smokin’ yo’ seegyar? Tu’n me loose, fo’ I kick de natal stuffin’ outen you. I wouldn’ spec’ fer you ter b’lieve me ’less you know all ’bout de fac’s. But ef you en young miss dere doan’ min’ list’n’in’ ter a ole nigger run on a minute er two while you er restin’, I kin ’splain to yer how it all happen. “th” is replaced by “t” or “d” How you come on, den? “ng” is replaced by “n” at the end of words Geneva Smitherman identifies different meanings for the term “nigger”:
1. affection or endearment;
2. ulturally Black, identifying with and sharing the values of Black people, as opposed to “African American,” which has a more middle-class connotation;
3. expression of disapproval for a person’s actions;
4. identifying Black folks—period I hear Miss Sally callin’. Now ef dey’s an’thing a nigger lub, nex’ ter ’possum, en chik’n, en watermillyums, it’s scuppernon’s. Sources: Mike Daley, “Black English and Rap Music,” York University (May 14, 1998) . Geneva Smitherman, Black Talk: Words and Phrases from the Hood to the Amen Corner (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1994). J O E L C H A N D L E R H A R R I S 17 telling, the portion that sets up the “story within the story” is called the frame narrative). How is Uncle Remus portrayed? What is his relationship to the boy and the boy’s family? How does Uncle Remus assert control over the stories and authority over the boy on occasion? Context: Compare Harris’s representation of Uncle Remus and his trickster stories to Charles Chesnutt’s Uncle Julius in “The Goophered Grapevine. ” How are these portraits of African American storytellers different from one another? How do the trickster tales narrated by each of the “Uncles” compare? How do Chesnutt’s accounts of Uncle Julius’s MYHISTORYS!!! and motives complicate our understanding of “The Goophered Grapevine”? Exploration: Stories about Brer Rabbit and his fellow animals have continued to entertain American readers—adults and children alike—through the twentieth century. Books featuring Uncle Remus have continued to sell well, and in 1946 Disney produced Song of the South, an animated feature film about the characters that populate the Uncle Remus stories (despite criticisms of the film’s racial insensitivity, Disney re-released Song of the South as recently as 1986). Why do you think these stories and images have remained so popular? How might their significance to white and black audiences have changed over time?  Joseph John Kirkbride, Panorama of Mooseriver Village (c. 1884–91), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-61485]. Sarah Orne Jewett (1849–1909) Sarah Orne Jewett’s evocative sketches of village life in nineteenthcentury Maine have earned her a place among the most important practitioners of American regional writing. Born in South Berwick, Maine, Jewett grew up steeped in the idioms and atmosphere of coastal New England. Her early experiences accompanying her father, a rural doctor, on house calls provided her with insight into the daily lives of the people who would eventually populate her fiction. Jewett’s father encouraged her writing aspirations and instilled in her his taste for realistic description and restrained narration—qualities that characterized Jewett’s best work. As early as her teens, Jewett began writing and publishing fiction and poetry, placing one of her stories in the influential literary magazine the Atlantic Monthly. In 1877 she published Deephaven, her first book-length collection, and followed up on its success with several other collections of stories, four novels, and some children’s literature. While Jewett’s novels were well received, critics generally agree that her short fiction represents her most important literary accomplishment. In The White Heron (a collection of stories published in 1886) and especially in The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896), Jewett employed the flexible narrative structure of the “sketch” and the short story to create sensitive, realistic depictions of specific characters, customs, and places. The genre of the sketch—less formal than a novel and less dependent on traditional conventions of plotting and structure—enabled her to experiment with narrative form to compelling effect. Her masterpiece, The Country of the Pointed Firs, is a loosely 18
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M inked collection of sketches unified by its narrator, a somewhat detached, cultured summer visitor to rural Maine. Beginning in the late 1870s, Jewett found support and inspiration from an influential circle of New England women writers and artists. Her most important bond was with Annie Fields, the wife of prominent publisher James T. Fields. After her husband’s death, Annie Fields began an intense, exclusive relationship with Jewett that endured until Jewett’s death. In the nineteenth century, this kind of long-term union between two women who lived together was referred to as a Boston marriage. The two women regularly traveled together and spent much of every year living together in Fields’s homes in Boston and on the New England shore. In recent years, literary critics and historians have become very interested in the nature of Jewett’s and Fields’s deep commitment to one another. While the question of whether or not their relationship was a sexual one has never been resolved, it is clear that the two women drew companionship and support from their mutual bond. In 1901, Jewett received an honorary doctorate from Bowdoin College, her father’s alma mater. The next year, she was seriously hurt in a carriage accident, sustaining injuries to her head and spine that left her unable to write. Eight years later she died in South Berwick, in the home in which she was born.  Arnold Genthe, Sarah Orne Jewett (n. d. ), courtesy of the Library of Congress, Arnold Genthe Collection [LC-G4085-0430].
T E A C H I N G T I P S I Sarah Orne Jewett had a deep interest in the occult, a theme that arises in “The Foreigner. ” Ask students to think about the role of the “other-worldly” in this story. Why does Jewett include the ending she does? How does it affect Mrs. Todd? How does it affect the narrator? How does the occult event serve to bind together women in the story? What is the relationship between Jewett’s commitment to realistic depiction and her interest in the occult? Refer students to the contextual material featured in “The Spirit Is Willing: The Occult and Women in the Nineteenth Century” in Unit 6. Ask them to think about how this story relates to the experiences of the Fox sisters. I Jewett once told an editor who urged her to write a novel that she did not think she was capable of managing the narrative structure of a long work: “But I don’t believe I could write a long story as you . . . advise me in this last letter. The story would have no plot. I could write you entertaining letters perhaps, from some desirable house where I was in most charming company, but I couldn’t make a story about it. ” After you give students this background information, ask them how fair Jewett’s self-deprecating analysis is to her ability to structure narrative. How do her stories challenge conventional plot structures? Do her plots move in a linear fashion? How does information come out? How are characters developed? How does she use the short story to experiment with narrative form? S A R A H O R N E J E W E T T 19 J E W E T T W E B A R C H I V E Q U E S T I O N S Harper’s Weekly, Eight illustrations depicting a New England farmhouse (1876), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-102852]. These illustrations depict a replica New England farmhouse that was exhibited at the Centennial Exposition of 1876.  Allen L. Hubbard, Alna Meeting House, State Rt. 218, Alna, Lincoln County, Maine (1936), courtesy of the Library of Congress. This plain-style meetinghouse reflects the old New England emphasis on spiritual rather than material wealth. Meetinghouses were places of worship and the site of town meetings.  Arnold Genthe, Sarah Orne Jewett (n. d. , courtesy of the Library of Congress, Arnold Genthe Collection [LC-G4085-0430]. Born in 1849 in South Berwick, Maine, Sarah Orne Jewett grew up steeped in the idioms and atmosphere of coastal New England. Her evocative sketches of village life in nineteenth-century Maine have earned her a place among the most important practitioners of American regional writing.  Samuel H. Gottscho, Gate bordered by stone walls (c. 1918), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZC2-4334]. Photograph of a rural New England setting such as those found in Jewett’s work.  Joseph John Kirkbride, Panorama of Mooseriver Village (c. 1884–91), courtesy of the Library of Congess [LC-USZ62-61485]. Sarah Orne Jewett, the daughter of a country doctor, drew much of her inspiration from the small-town New England life with which she was intimately familiar.  Comprehension: In the story “The White Heron,” how does Sylvia relate to her rural environment and to the animals—both wild and domestic—that she encounters within it? How is her relationship to wildlife different from the ornithologist’s? Why does she ultimately decide not to tell him about the white heron? Comprehension: “The Foreigner” tells the story of Mrs. Tolland, a foreign woman brought to Maine by her sea captain husband. When he dies at sea, she is left alone, living in the captain’s house, in a community that continues to treat her as an outsider. What kinds of relationships do the characters in “The Foreigner” have to the objects in the Tollands’ house? What objects are important to Mrs. Tolland? How does Mrs. Todd feel about the house? What attitude does Uncle Lorenzo take toward the house and its contents? Context: “The Foreigner” contains numerous frames and distancing devices: the narrator recounts Mrs. Todd’s story, while Mrs. Todd recounts both events that happened to her directly and events that she heard about from other people or through hearsay and gossip. What is the effect of this multiplicity of frames around the tale of Mrs. Tolland and her life and death? What links the various layers of the story together? Why do you think so many authors who wrote in the realist genre and experimented with dialect relied on frame narratives (Harris and Chesnutt, for example)? Exploration: How do Jewett’s depictions of New England characters and their values compare to other, earlier authors’ interest in the same subject matter (Nathaniel Hawthorne, Catherine Maria Sedgwick, or Harriet Beecher Stowe, for example)? Kate Chopin (1851–1904) Writing at the end of the nineteenth century at the height of the popularity of “local color” fiction, Kate Chopin introduced American readers to a new fictional setting with her evocations of the diverse culture of Cajun and Creole Louisiana. But while much of Chopin’s work falls into the category of regionalism, her stories and especially her novel, The Awakening, are also notable for their introduction of controversial subjects like women’s sexuality, divorce, extramarital sex, and miscegenation. Kate Chopin was born in St. Louis, Missouri, to a socially prominent, financially secure family. Her mother, Eliza Faris, descended from French Creole ancestors, and her father, Thomas O’Flaherty, was an Irish immigrant who had made his fortune as a merchant in St. Louis. Chopin learned to speak both French and English in her home and was sent to Catholic school. At the age of nineteen she married Oscar Chopin, a French Creole from a Louisiana planter family. After a glamorous European honeymoon, the couple settled in New Orleans, where Oscar went into business as a cotton broker and Kate became active in the city’s social life. Her fluency in French and southern sympathies ensured that she fit easily into New Orleans society. When the cotton brokerage business failed in 1879, the Chopins 20
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M relocated to Natchitoches Parish in rural Louisiana, where they intended to operate one of Oscar’s father’s cotton plantations. But by 1883 Oscar Chopin had died of swamp fever, leaving Kate Chopin a thirty-two-year-old widow with six children to support and limited financial resources. After running the plantation on her own for a year, Chopin returned to St. Louis, where she moved into her mother’s house and began writing poetry and short stories. Drawing on her experiences in New Orleans and Natchitoches, Chopin created realistic depictions of the distinctive customs of the region and captured the cadences and diction of Louisiana speech in her dialogue. By 1893, she had published her first novel, At Fault, and placed stories in such prestigious venues as the Atlantic Monthly, Vogue, and Century. In 1894 she published an extremely successful collection of short stories, Bayou Folk, and followed it up with another volume of stories about Louisiana entitled A Night in Acadie. While her stories have been praised and frequently anthologized since their publication in the 1890s, critics today generally agree that Chopin’s masterpiece is her 1899 novel, The Awakening. Taking up Chopin’s recurring theme of the conflict between social constraints placed on women and their desire for independence, the novel tells the story of Edna Pontellier, a Creole woman who gradually awakens to her own dissatisfaction with her identity as a wife and mother. Focusing on her own needs and desires, Edna daringly flouts social conventions by moving out of her husband’s house and entering into an adulterous affair. Due to its controversial subject matter and its sympathetic portrayal of its unconventional heroine, the novel provoked hostile reviews from critics who dismissed it as “trite and sordid” or even “perverse” and “vulgar. ” While Chopin did not completely abandon her writing career in the wake of The Awakening’s harsh reception, she was upset by the criticism and her literary output diminished. She died five years later of a cerebral hemorrhage. The Awakening sold poorly in its own day and was largely ignored until the mid-twentieth century, when it was recognized as a masterpiece of feminist and realist literature. 
T E A C H I N G T I P S Thomas Anshutz, A Rose (1907), courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Marguerite and Frank Cosgrove, Jr. Fund, 1993 (1993. 324). Photograph © 1994 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. I Kate Chopin habitually wrote her stories and novels while sitting in the living room, surrounded by the noise of her busy household and subject to the demands of her six children. She wrote only one or two days a week and composed most of her stories in a single sitting without revision. She said of her own writing, “I am completely at the mercy of unconscious selection. To such an extent is this true, that what is called the polishing up process has always proved disastrous to my work, and I avoid it, preferring the integrity of crudities to artificialities. ” Ask students to consider what kinds of aesthetic values underwrite this description of a writer at work. Why was Chopin invested in presenting herself as someone who never revised? Why might she assume that readers would appreciate “crudities” over “artificialities”? K AT E C H O P I N 21 C H O P I N W E B A R C H I V E  William Merritt Chase, At the Seaside (1892), courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Kate Chopin evokes the symbolic landscape of the sea at the end of The Awakening. Chopin’s protagonist finds considerable oppression in the forced camaraderie of female socialization, but a freeing independence in the solitary ocean.  Thomas Anshutz, A Rose (1907), courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Marguerite and Frank A. Cosgrove, Jr. Fund, 1993 (1993. 324). Photograph © 1994 The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Anshutz, a student of painter Thomas Eakins, was known for his unconventional subject matter, but here he uses his photographic clarity to make a fashionable portrait. The pose of the sitter reflects the sense that Anshutz has captured an informal, fleeting moment. It is this same attention to the emotional resonances of daily life that fills Chopin’s The Awakening.  Anonymous, Kate Chopin house (c. 1883), courtesy of Northwestern University. Chopin wrote her stories and novels amidst the hustle and bustle of her living room, frequently interrupted by her six children.  Anonymous, Kate Chopin with children (c. 1878), courtesy of Northwestern University. Photograph of Chopin with four of her six children. Widowed at thirty-two, Chopin wrote poetry, stories, and novels to support her family.  Anonymous, Frances Benjamin Johnston, full-length portrait, standing at edge of ocean in bathing suit, with left hand on boat, facing right (1880), courtesy of the Library of Congress [LCUSZ62-120445]. Bathing was a popular fin de siecle pursuit, whether in the ocean or in mineral springs. Bathing costumes protected women’s modesty.  Kate Chopin, “Desiree’s Baby” (1893), courtesy of 4Literature. net. In this story Chopin addresses the question of miscegenation and the legacy of slavery in the South. I Chopin’s original title for The Awakening was “The Solitary Soul. ” Ask students which title they prefer. Why might Chopin have changed the title? What different ideas does each title suggest about the novel’s heroine and about her suicide?
Q U E S T I O N S Comprehension: How does Edna rebel against social conventions in The Awakening? How does her rebellion begin? Which of her actions seem most shocking to her community? Context: Examine the nineteenth-century designs for bathing costumes and beach dresses featured in the archive. What kinds of attitudes toward women’s bodies and women’s athletic pursuits do these costumes reveal? How do these images affect your understanding of Edna’s decision to swim naked into the Gulf at the end of The Awakening? Context: As its subtitle indicates, the short story “The Storm” functions as a sequel to “At the ’Cadian Ball,” offering a glimpse of the characters’ lives several years after the action of the first story. How do the events of “The Storm” complicate the resolution of “At the ’Cadian Ball”? How are we meant to understand the final line, “So the storm passed and every one was happy”? Why do you think Chopin never submitted this story for publication? Exploration: Literary critics disagree about how to interpret the meaning of Edna’s suicide at the end of The Awakening. While some take the ending of the novel as an affirmation of Edna’s strength and independence, others see it as psychologically out of character for Edna or as the pathetic act of a hopeless, defeated woman. How do you understand the ending of the novel? How does Chopin’s representation of suicide resonate with descriptions of suicides or suicide attempts in later feminist American literature (by Dorothy Parker, Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, or Susanna Kaysen, for example)? You might refer to Anne Sexton’s poem to Sylvia Plath, “Sylvia’s Death,” in particular. Mary E. Wilkins Freeman (1852–1930) In composing her well-received realist depictions of women’s lives in New England villages, Mary E. Wilkins Freeman wrote about the people and places she had known all her life. Born in Randolph, Massachusetts, Freeman grew up in intimate familiarity with the economically depressed circumstances and strict Calvinist belief system that shaped the lives of the majority of her characters. At the age of fifteen, Freeman moved with her family to Brattleboro, Vermont, where her father opened a dry goods store in an effort to better their financial situation. After graduating from Brattleboro high school, Freeman spent one year at Mt. Holyoke Female Seminary but did not enjoy college life or living away from home. Returning to Vermont, she faced a series of misfortunes: her teaching career was unsuccessful, her sister died, her father’s business failed, and her mother was forced to sup- 22
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M port the family by working as a housekeeper for the town’s minister. Her family’s poverty was difficult for Freeman to deal with; she found it particularly humiliating that she had to move into the servants’ quarters at the home where her mother worked as a domestic. In 1883, after both of her parents had died, Freeman moved back to Randolph to live with her childhood friend, Mary Wales. There she developed the writing career she had begun a few years earlier with the publication of some stories and poetry for children. She soon found a ready market for her realist representations of New England life, placing stories in the prestigious Harper’s New Monthly Magazine and eventually publishing her own book-length collections of stories. Her work was well received by both critics and readers, who were charmed by her focus on a regional lifestyle that was rapidly becoming extinct. Freeman was a prolific writer: over the course of her career she published fifteen volumes of short stories (the work for which she is best known today), over fifty uncollected stories and essays, fourteen novels, three plays, three volumes of poetry, and eight children’s books. With Wales’s help, Freeman became a shrewd and successful businessperson. Her surviving letters reveal her deep concern with making a living as an author and with maximizing her fees and royalties. While Freeman’s successful career afforded her financial security and a great deal of autonomy, her best fiction focuses on the plight of women whose lives are bounded by poverty and the social constraints imposed on them by their strict religious beliefs and their position as women. Fascinated by the impact of traditional Puritan values of submissiveness, frugality, and self-denial on New England culture, Freeman often portrayed characters who create obstacles to their own happiness by their strict adherence to Calvinist morality. In other stories, however, she explored the rebellions and triumphs of seemingly meek women, depicting their strategies for gaining and maintaining control over their domestic situations with humor and sensitivity. She provided unflinching portraits of both the difficulties of “spinsterhood” and the often oppressive power dynamics that structured nineteenthcentury marriage. Freeman herself married late in life, wedding Dr. Charles Freeman when she was forty-nine. After an initial period of harmony, the marriage ended in separation when she had her husband institutionalized for alcoholism. In 1926 she was awarded the William Dean Howells Gold Medal for Fiction by the American Academy of Letters, and later that year she was inducted into the prestigious National Institute for Arts and Letters.  Harper’s Weekly, Eight illustrations depicting a New England farmhouse, courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-102852]. M A R Y E . W I L K I N S F R E E M A N 23 F R E E M A N W E B A R C H I V E
T E A C H I N G T I P S Harper’s Weekly, Eight illustrations depicting a New England farmhouse, courtesy of the Library of Congress [LC-USZ62-102852]. These illustrations show a variety of furnishings from a replica New England farmhouse exhibited at the Centennial Exposition of 1876. Spinning wheels, a desk, a clock, and kitchen implements are among the items shown.  Jerome Thompson, Recreation (1857), courtesy of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Museum Purchase, the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, 47. 13. By the second half of the nineteenth century, the outdoors was increasingly associated with relaxation, particularly for those who could afford leisure time and travel. Better roads and growing railroad systems made travel to suburban areas easier for residents of nearby cities.  Anonymous, The First Step [Godey’s Lady’s Book] (June 1858), courtesy of Hope Greenberg, University of Vermont. The parlor was perceived as a necessary room in even the most humble of homes. When there was no room for a formal parlor, Americans made an effort to adorn their living spaces with decorative objects, such as the paintings and bureau-top items in this drawing.  Bruce Michelson, Interview: “Women’s Regionalist Writing” (2001), courtesy of Annenberg Media and American Passages. Bruce Michelson, professor of English at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, speaks about women’s regionalist writing.  I While “The Revolt of ‘Mother’ ” is one of Freeman’s most frequently anthologized stories, she herself was dissatisfied with what she viewed as its lack of realism. In an autobiographical essay she explained, “in the first place all fiction ought to be true, and ‘The Revolt of “Mother” ’ is not in the least true. . . . There never was in New England a woman like Mother. If there had been she most certainly would not have moved into that palatial barn. . . . New England women of that period coincided with their husbands in thinking that sources of wealth should be better housed than consumers. ” After you give students this background information, ask them to think about Freeman’s literary values: why does she insist that “all fiction ought to be true”? Given her conviction that the events in “The Revolt of ‘Mother’ ” do not meet her realist standards, why did she plot the story around Mother’s rebellion? You might ask students to outline what the plot would have looked like had Freeman characterized Mother as a more typical “New England woman of that period,” and then have them share their outlines with the class. I Recently, scholars of lesbian studies have become interested in Freeman’s work and career, examining her long and close relationship with her roommate, Mary Wales; her late and unsuccessful marriage; and her depictions of women who choose solitude or companionship with other women over relationships with men. While close female friendships had been socially acceptable in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, by the time Freeman wrote exclusive female relationships were undergoing redefinition. With the emergence of lesbian identity—and a new understanding of the sexual possibilities of same-sex relationships—close attachments between women were beginning to be portrayed as “unhealthy” or as a symptom of moral or biological degeneracy. Ask students to consider Freeman’s portrayal of marriage and heterosexual romance in light of these issues. How does Freeman critique the power structure of heterosexual relationships? How radical is her position? What kinds of alternatives, if any, does she envision for characters involved in unsatisfying heterosexual unions?
Q U E S T I O N S Comprehension: In “A New England Nun,” what kinds of pets does Louisa have? How do their lives symbolically suggest the limits of Louisa’s own existence? Context: Why are Mother and Nancy dissatisfied with their home in “The Revolt of ‘Mother’ ”? What kinds of improvements do they wish for? How do their visions for their new home coincide with contemporary ideas about home decoration and parlor culture? Context: In both “A New England Nun” and “The Revolt of ‘Mother,’ ” Freeman narrates women’s assertion of control over their own domestic situations. What kinds of strategies do Louisa and Mother employ to gain their ends? How empowering are their “revolts”? Should they be characterized as revolts? How do Freeman’s depic- 24
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M tions of women exercising domestic authority compare with Chopin’s portrait of Edna Pontellier’s drive for autonomy in The Awakening? Do Louisa or Mother experience anything like an “awakening”? Exploration: Freeman was fascinated by the legacy of Puritanism in New England, explaining that her characters were “the descendants of the Massachusetts Bay Colonists, in whom can still be seen traces of will and conscience, so strong as to be almost exaggerations and deformities, which characterized their ancestors. ” How do Freeman’s characters compare to the Puritans featured in Unit 3 (John Winthrop, Anne Bradsteet, or Mary Rowlandson, for example)? How do the scruples and morals that motivate Freeman’s characters’ actions resonate with Puritan values? Charles W. Chesnutt (1858–1932) Charles W. Chesnutt was a pioneer among African American fiction writers, addressing controversial issues of race in a realist style that commanded the attention and respect of the white literary establishment of the late nineteenth century. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Chesnutt was the son of free parents who had moved north before the Civil War. During Reconstruction, the family returned to North Carolina and Chesnutt was raised among rural African Americans. His family’s financial difficulties led him to take a job as a teacher while he was still a teenager. Building on his studious habits and intellectual curiosity, he eventually rose to the position of principal of the Fayetteville State Normal School for Negroes. In 1883, Chesnutt sought broader opportunities in the North, relocating to Cleveland and working as a clerk for a railway company while he studied law. He soon passed the state bar examination and founded his own successful practice as a court reporter. Chesnutt first received national recognition as a writer in 1887, when his story “The Goophered Grapevine” appeared in the prestigious Atlantic Monthly. Narrated by an old black man named “Uncle Julius,” written in African American dialect, and set in the rural South, the story seemed to have affinities with the regional folktales popularized by Joel Chandler Harris. But Chesnutt’s Uncle Julius is a unique figure in nineteenth-century vernacular literature: he recounts plantation stories not out of sentimental nostalgia but in order to manipulate his white listeners to his own ends. The subversive humor and irony of Chesnutt’s Uncle Julius stories subtly satirize nineteenthcentury white people’s condescending stereotypes of African Americans. Chesnutt soon negotiated a contract with Houghton Mifflin to publish a book-length collection of his stories, The Conjure Woman, which appeared in 1899. A second book, “The Wife of His Youth” and Other Stories of the Color Line, included stories which explore both urban and rural characters’ experiences with race. Chesnutt followed this collection with a biography of Frederick Douglass and a series of novels that treat the plight of mixed-race people and social tensions in the South. Unfortunately, his novels never  Anonymous, Two women hulling rice, Sapelo Island, Georgia (c. 1900), courtesy of the Georgia Department of Archives and History.
C H A R L E S W. C H E S N U T T 25 C H E S N U T T W E B A R C H I V E Anonymous, Two women hulling rice, Sapelo Island, Georgia (c. 1900), courtesy of the Georgia Department of Archives and History. Technological advancements were slow to arrive in many parts of the country, particularly in the less industrialized South. Here, two African American women use a traditional mortar and pestle to remove the hulls from rice.  Anonymous, Charles Chesnutt [portrait] (1939), courtesy of Fisk University. Photograph of Charles W. Chesnutt, a pioneer African American author. Written in African American dialect, his “Uncle Julius” stories are similar to regional folktales popularized by white author Joel Chandler Harris. Chesnutt’s work, however, intentionally and subtly satirized the condescending stereotypes of African Americans during the nineteenth century.  Anonymous, Charles Chesnutt study (1906), courtesy of Fisk University. Charles W. Chesnutt worked as a school principal, a stenographer, and, eventually, a lawyer. The expansion of the magazine industry gave Chesnutt his first opportunity to publish. His works depicted both average southern blacks and those of mixed blood who lived on the color line.  Anonymous, Charles Chesnutt (n. d. ), courtesy of Fisk University Library’s Special Collections. As a person of mixed race, Chesnutt felt removed from both white and black society. I am too stuck up for colored folks,” he wrote, “and, of course, not recognized by whites. ” From this distance, Chesnutt explored issues of race within the black community.  Anonymous, African Americans in front of piano (c. 1875–1900), courtesy of the New York Public Library. The values that informed parlor culture—the ability to devote the parlor space to formal display rather than stocking it with furnishings designed for private, daily use—were not limited to the wealthy or the urban in mid-nineteenth-century America.  achieved the popularity or acclaim of his short stories, and, by 1905, Chesnutt had difficulty publishing his work. As a new generation of African American writers produced the innovative literature associated with the Harlem Renaissance, Chesnutt found himself increasingly out of touch with both his black and his white audiences. Despite the decline at the end of his career, Chesnutt’s contributions to African American letters were foundational and significant. In recognition of his efforts, the NAACP awarded him the Spingarn Medal in 1928 for his groundbreaking realist representations of the “life and struggle of Americans of Negro descent. ”
T E A C H I N G T I P S I Unlike Joel Chandler Harris, Chesnutt insisted that his renditions of traditional African American folktales were not transcriptions but rather “the fruit of my own imagination. He frequently incorporated elements from his reading of classical Greek and Roman literature into his stories; for instance, in “The Goophered Grapevine,” Henry is transformed into a kind of Bacchanalian vineyard figure. Ask students to think about the implications of Chesnutt’s “imaginative” additions to traditional African American tales. Why might he have been interested in incorporating classical elements into these stories? Why did he want to be known as a creator of stories rather than as a transcriber of existing folktales? Why might Harris and Chesnutt have had such different approaches to their characterization of themselves as authors? I Because his Uncle Julius stories contain a frame narrative from the point of view of a rather condescending white man, many of Chesnutt’s early readers probably assumed that the writer was white. In 1899, when he began to write full time, Chesnutt made his own racial identity more public. Ask students to think about the role of the white narrator in the Uncle Julius stories. Why might Chesnutt have adopted this narrative voice? Why might he have eventually felt compelled to publicize his own racial background as the stories became more popular? You might ask students to rewrite the frame narrative of Chesnutt’s work so that it is clearly not a white narrator. What would need to be changed? What would get left as is? How does this change the nature of the story?
Q U E S T I O N S Comprehension: Why does Uncle Julius tell the white narrator the story of the “goophered” vineyard? What effect does the story have on the narrator? What do we learn about Julius’s relationship to the land and its produce over the course of the tale? Comprehension: What is the “Blue Vein Society” to which Ryder belongs in “The Wife of His Youth”? How do the Blue Veins participate in the construction of the social “color line” which Chesnutt found so fascinating? What values do the Blue Veins seem to promote among African Americans? 26
U N I T 8 , R E G I O N A L R E A L I S M Context: Compare Uncle Julius to Joel Chandler Harris’s Uncle Remus. What kinds of relationships do they have with their white auditors? What seems to motivate their storytelling sessions? How do the trickster tales related in Julius’s and Remus’s stories differ? Context: Compare Chesnutt’s representations of African American dialect to Alexander Posey’s representations of the speech of Creek Indians. What characterizes each group’s speech patterns? How do the speakers describe and relate to members of their own race? How do the speakers describe and relate to people of other races? Exploration: Chesnutt was part of an early tradition of preserving traditional folktales and recording folk customs. His representations of African American beliefs about “conjuring” and “hoodoo”—spiritual practices that combined African, Caribbean, and Christian religious traditions—offer important insight into African American culture. How do Chesnutt’s representations of “conjuring” relate to later African American writers’ interest in these practices? How might Chesnutt have influenced Toni Morrison’s interest in the supernatural? Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa) (1858–1939) A Santee Sioux, physician, government agent, and spokesperson for Indian rights, Charles Alexander Eastman was also the first wellknown, widely read Native American author. A fully acculturated Indian, Eastman worked to create understanding between Native Americans and Euro-Americans and sometimes found himself in the conflicted position of being caught between the two cultures. His writing resonates with his efforts both to make Indian traditions accessible to a white audience and to define his own identity as an Indian and as an American. Eastman was separated from his parents at an early age when their tribe fled to Canada after the ill-fated Minnesota Dakota conflict. His father, Many Lightnings, was presumed dead so Eastman was given a traditional Sioux upbringing by his uncle and his grandmother. In 1869, however, Eastman found out that his father was not dead but had in fact changed his name to Jacob Eastman, adopted Euro-American customs, and converted to Christianity. Changing his son’s name from Ohiyesa to Charles Alexander, Jacob Eastman took the boy from the Sioux community in Canada and raised him on a farm in South Dakota. With his father’s encouragement, Eastman received a Euro-American education and eventually earned a degree from Dartmouth and an M. D. from Boston University. In 1890 Eastman accepted what would be the first of many positions with the U. S. government, becoming an agency physician at the Sioux reservation in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. There he witnessed the aftermath of the tragic massacre at Wounded Knee, in which many  John S. (Jack) Coldwell, Jr. , U. S. allotting surveyor and his interpreter making an American citizen of Chief American Horse, Oglala Sioux (c. 1907), courtesy of the Denver Public Library, Western History Department.
C H A R L E S A L E X A N D E R E A S T M A N ( O H I Y E S A ) 27 E A S T M A N W E B