C. W. Chesnutt, The Wife of His Youth

Joshua Robinson (University of Akron)
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Charles W. Chesnutt’s “The Wife of His Youth”, first published in The Atlantic Monthly in 1898, represents its author’s conscious attempt to satirize America’s race-obsessed society by bringing “the mulatto’s special case to the forefront” (Sowards). Though a similar purpose informs the larger collection, The Wife of his Youth and other Stories of the Color Line, published the following year, “The Wife of His Youth” has proven capable of standing on its own as a manifesto of Black American identity. Widely anthologized and frequently studied in university courses, the complex and dramatic story has become a touchstone of U.S. social history and an essential work in the African American literary canon.

The story also marks a turn in Chesnutt’s career, a departure from

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Citation: Robinson, Joshua. "The Wife of His Youth". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 28 August 2023 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=8155, accessed 03 December 2023.]

8155 The Wife of His Youth 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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