English 254 Class #5 Wed, Jan 23
Chesnutt, "Goophered Grapevine"
1. What is the story about?
2. What’s the primary conflict? Who’s the protagonist, antagonist?
3. What kind of man is the narrator, and how is he contrasted with Uncle Julius?
4. Writers in the 19th century often portrayed blacks as docile "uncles." Does Chestnutt's Uncle Julius fit the stereotype? Is he servile?
5. Besides the obvious fact that the narrator wants to hear the history of the vineyard he might buy, how do the two stories—the story of Mars Dugal and Henry, and the story of the narrator and Uncle Julius—relate to each other?
6. Does the narrator believe Uncle Julius’s story? What seems to be Chesnutt’s attitude toward this story of “conjuring”? Is he likely to believe it, or not?
7. Chesnutt used dialect in the story in part to create in the minds of readers a sense of realism and as a means of characterization. In your opinion, is the use of dialect excessive?
8. Critics often describe Uncle Julius as a “trickster.” Does he trick the narrator? If so, how?
9. Who wins at the end?
10. Chesnutt's narrator provides a "frame" within which Uncle Julius narrates a separate story. How does this frame work in the story? If the “real story” is about Mars Dugal, Henry, and the goopher, why does Chesnutt frame that story within the story of Uncle Julius and the white narrator?