Social and moral forces in Charles W. Chesnutt’s fiction
Dr. Gunpal Singh
In his fiction Charles W. Chesnutt is a realist who recognizes that literature is a strong social and moral force in society and that his fiction could affect positive changes in a society. Chesnutt senses that the central issues of life tend to be ethical, that is, issues of conduct and practice in society. He has a strong belief that many Americans were morally ready to hear a black author's realistic voice on racial matters. His goal, then, is a moral revolution based on the elevation of the whites. For this reason he wrote novel such as The Marrow of Tradition. Consequently Chesnutt's literary focus is on social and moral issues of the post-Civil War era as well as on the injustices of the pre-Civil War era. His technique is to create character stereotypes and predictable plots which fit his purpose. He uses his characters to convey social truths concerning the South. His fiction also portrays interpersonal relationships existing between persons of mixed-race and other blacks, blacks toward other blacks, and blacks and persons of mixed-race toward Southern and Northern white people. This chapter will also present, through the novel The Marrow of Tradition his perspective on social and moral issues facing blacks and persons of mixed-race in the South.