Full version The Passing Of Grandison

The Passing Of Grandison

This print version free essay The Passing Of Grandison.

Category: English

Autor: reviewessays 09 June 2011

Words: 786 | Pages: 4

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

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

The story doesn’t follow what happened to Grandison between his arranged kidnapping and his return back to the plantation, but one could imagine that after getting a taste of freedom, Grandison decided that it was to good to enjoy alone, and thus, returned to the plantation to claim those true to his heart. Again, Grandison played on the slavemaster’s trust in his obedient slave, and threw himself upon the mercy of the master, who was probably more excited to see that he had proven himself right. Grandison once again, outsmarated the master when he not only returned and left again, but took some of the master’s prized slaves with him. Grandison did not attempt to challenge his master’s perception of him, instead he used the Colonel’s own ignorant assumptions against him. The humor of the story was used so as not to offend the white audiences, and instead of presenting the story in a way that displays superiority, Chesnutt used the type of slapstick humor, that whites were comfortable with. The story written any other way could have caused many white readers to be offended by the audacity of a black man who dared to portray whites as ignorant.

Chesnutt story is a social commentary of sorts, the author not only showed the errors of racism that existed, but he also introduced the idea of abolitionist to those who may have previously thought it to be anti-american. Chessnutt showed the abolitionists not as aggressive brutes whose mission was to kill slaveowners, as in the case of Nat Turner. But by using a white preacher and men dressed nicely, the author civilized the image of the abolotionits. The author also tackled the generational difference that may have existed with families. While the colonel was very anti-abolotionist, his son, the young master, seemed to favor freeing the slaves, even if for personal gain, which in this case was the affection of his woman. The author also displayed the family ties that existed between the slaves, even though they were used to having their families divided, Grandison returned to the plantation, risking his freedom, to free his family. Without taking a political stance, the author’s story was a insightful social commentary on wrongs of slavery. His story was a tool to get others to see that slavery, racism, and prejudiceness could definitely be a downfall for the social structure, and that change was inevitable.