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The Marrow of Tradition

Charles W. Chesnutt

Book Overview: 

In The Marrow of Tradition, Charles W. Chesnutt--using the 1898 Wilmington, North Carolina massacre as a backdrop--probes and exposes the raw nerves and internal machinery of racism in the post-Reconstruction-era South; explores how miscegenation, caste, gender and the idea of white supremacy informed Jim Crow laws; and unflinchingly revisits the most brutal of terror tactics, mob lynchings.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .But she hoped, on general principles, that this performance would strengthen the charm and restore little Dodie's luck. It certainly had its moral effect upon Jane's own mind, for she was able to sleep better, and contrived to impress Mrs. Carteret with her own hopefulness.


As the south-bound train was leaving the station at Philadelphia, a gentleman took his seat in the single sleeping-car attached to the train, and proceeded to make himself comfortable. He hung up his hat and opened his newspaper, in which he remained absorbed for a quarter of an hour. When the train had left the city behind, he threw the paper aside, and looked around at the other occupants of the car. One of these, who had been on the car since it had left New York, rose from his seat upon perceiving the other's glance, and came down the aisle.

"How do you do, Dr. Burns?" he said, stopping beside the seat of the
Philadelphia. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Closer to 4.5 stars.
This is a really fast paced read, and unfortunately the racism and white supremacy are still very relevant to today's world. In that way, it's hard to read.
Chesnutt is a wonderful writer - very accessible and engaging. I would recommend reading his short stories if you love this

The Marrow of Tradition is, as William Dean Howells famously declared, a bitter, bitter novel. But like any black moral American alive at the time when white supremacy (which we could euphemistically refer to as "Jim Crow") withheld from former slaves and their descendants the liberties supposedly a

Things they didn't teach you in American History

I consider myself fortunate to have gone to segregated schools in the Jim Crow South of the 1950's,thanks to teachers who taught us many of the things that were missing from the approved text books. The text books in the Virginia schools would have us

4.5 stars

A heartrending book about the race riots that took place in Wilmington, North Carolina in 1898. Charles Chesnutt tackles the issue of white supremacy by focusing on two families - one white and one black - and how their lives intersect. Upon The Marrow of Tradition's initial publication, Ch

“We are all puppets in the hands of Fate, and seldom see the strings that move us."

The Marrow of Tradition is incredible. I loved it so much that I stayed home from school for the first half of the day just to finish it. I think I enjoyed this book so much because it reminded me of A Tale of Two Cit

Many critics consider Charles Chesnut to be the most influential African American fiction writer during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His realist fiction work The Marrow of Tradition based on a historical account of race riots that took place in Wilmington, North Carolina in 189

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