Date of Award

Fall 12-16-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Timothy Askew, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Alma Vinyard, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Georgene Bess Montgomery, Ph.D.


Chesnutt's short stories collection The Wife of His Youth and Other Stories of the Color Line (1899). Charles Chesnutt wrote two short stories which are "The Sheriff's Children" and "Her Virginia Mammy." He wrote them with white audiences in mind. In “The Sheriff’s Children,” Chesnutt presents Tom as a protagonist, his father Sheriff Campbell, and his half-sister Polly. In “Her Virginia Mammy,” he mentions Clara as a protagonist, her love Dr. Winthrop, and her mother Mrs. Harper. Chesnutt records their struggles in Post-Reconstruction North Carolina. He romanticized his characters’ difficult ethical decisions related to racial identity to illustrate more dramatically the consequences of their oppression. “The Sheriff’s Children” and “Her Virginia Mammy” both illustrate the ethical dilemmas of their protagonists, demonstrating to Chesnutt’s white readers the struggles and losses of black and biracial families.