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The Colonel's Dream

Charles W. Chesnutt

Book Overview: 

In this novel, Chesnutt described the hopelessness of Reconstruction in a post-Civil War South that was bent on reestablishing the former status quo and rebuilding itself as a region of the United States where new forms of "slavery" would replace the old. This novel illustrated how race hatred and the impotence of a reluctant Federal Government trumped the rule of law, ultimately setting the stage for the rise of institutions such as Jim Crow, lynching, chain gangs and work farms--all established with the intent of disenfranchising African Americans.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Good-bye, sir," he added, addressing the colonel. "Will you be in town long?"

"I really haven't decided. A day or two, perhaps a week. I am not bound, at present, by any business ties—am foot-loose, as we used to say when I was young. I shall follow my inclinations."

"Then I hope, sir, that you'll feel inclined to pay us a long visit and that I shall see you many times."

As Ben Dudley, after this courteous wish, stepped down from the piazza, Graciella rose and walked with him along the garden path. She was tall as most women, but only reached his shoulder.

"Say, Graciella," he asked, "won't you give me an answer."

"I'm thinking about it, Ben. If you could take me away from this [44]dead old town, with its lazy white people and its trifling niggers, to a place where there's music and art, and life and society—where there's something going on all the time, I'd like to marry you. But if I did so now, you'd take me out. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Great book. I enjoyed Chesnutt's reflection of a post Civil War South. But, I could not help but to notice that John Jakes and Margret Mitchell may have read this book. =0.
I would recommend the audio version. Peter won my heart.

this made me really uncomfortable to read ... which I suppose is the point

The South

Chesnutt's style is outdated and his tendency for foreshadowing heavy-handed but his love for and disgust with the South is palpable. I feel the same.

This one started out as a Utopian ideal much like other progressive books of the early 20th century. The Colonel is almost unbelievably upright and honest, but likable. Going to the post-reconstruction South creates in him a desire to better the lives of the people in his hometown. He has the means

This is a fascinating novel. It is written in a readable style and it keeps your interest with many plot twists and turns. My daughter loaned it to me to read as it was one of the books covered in her college Interpretation of Fiction class. It was so far ahead of its time and progressive and the au

ehhhh if you're gonna be 1800s america book u gotta amp up the crazy factor for me to stay interested. magua kickin in the door on a whale or somesuch

A great book. A genuine glance at the ugliness of the post-reconstruction South. The colonel discovers that some walls cannot be brought down. I recommend this book. It illustrates why Southern Society was so difficult to reform, and how deep the racism was.