Many students will have difficulty reading “Po’ Sandy” because of the use of dialect. It is best to read the story in its entirety aloud. A good exercise is for the teacher to select a passage from the story and have students rewrite the section in standard English.
1. Discuss why Charles Chesnutt chose to have Uncle Julius tell his yarn to white Northerners.
2. Discuss whether the story’s meaning is at all hampered by the fact that magic plays a major role in the advancement of the plot.
3. What was Uncle Julius’ real motive in telling the story?
4. What evils of the institution of slavery are highlighted in this tale?
5. What effect, if any, does the ending have upon Miss Annie? Her husband? The class?
“In White America”
1. How would students characterize the relationship between Jarm, the escaped slave and Sarah Logue, his former owner?
2. What facts can be deduced or inferred from reading the exchange of letters?
3. Is Sarah Logue justified in rebuking Jarm for stealing the mare? Should Jarm repay her for the loss?
4. Write a final reply to Jarm’s letter from the point of view of Miss Logue.
5. What character traits are revealed about Nat Turner in his narration?
6. Does Nat Turner show any signs of remorse for the killing of women and children?
7. How might Nat Turner justify his deeds?
VI. Civil War and Emancipation
Fighting for their own freedom had a powerful, liberating feeling for many blacks during the Civil War.
The Negro’s Civil War
by James M. McPherson contains a wealth of speeches, editorials, letters by Negroes involved directly in the struggle. In Chapter XIII, “Negro Soldiers Prove Themselves in Battle, 1863,” McPherson gives William Wells Brown’s poetic account of the Port Hudson assault, May 27, 1863, where Negro troops comprised of ex-slaves and free Negroes from Louisiana showed they are able soldiers, fighting in the open against heavy artillery fire. (McPherson, 187)
A middle-aged sergeant in that regiment relates:
I had been a-thinkin’ I was old man; for, on de plantation, I was put down wid de old hands, and I quinsicontly (sic) feeled myself dat I was a old man. But since I has come here to de Yankees, and been made a soldier for the United States, an’ got dese beautiful clothes on, I feels like one young man; and doesn’t call myself a old man nebber no more. An’ I feels dis ebenin’ dat, if de rebs came down here to dis old Fort Hudson, dat I could jus fight um as brave as any man what is in the Sebenth Regiment. Sometimes I has mighty feelings in dis ole heart of mine, when I considers how dese ere ossifers come all de way from the North to fight in de cause what we is fighten fur. How many ossifers has died, and how many white soldiers has died, in dis great and glorious war what we is in! And now I feels dat, fore I would turn coward away from dese ossifers, I feels dat I could drink my own blood, and be pierced through wid five thousand bullets. I feels sometimes as doe I ought to tank Massa Linkern for dis blessin’ what we has; but again I comes to de solemn conclusion dat I ought to tank de Lord, Massa Linkern, and all dese ossifers. “Fore I would be a slave ‘gain, I would fight till de last drop of blood was gone. I has ‘cluded to fight for my liberty, and for dis eddication what we is now to receive in dis beautiful new house what we has. Aldo I hasn’t got any eddication nor no book-learnin’, I has rose up dis blessed ebenin’ to do my best afore dis congregation. Dat’s all what I has to say now. (McPherson, 191-192.)
Despite the fact the Negro soldiers had fought valiantly to help the North win the war, many northerners after the war wanted to see all Negroes repatriated to Africa. In response to this thinking, James F. Jones, a black soldier in the Fourteenth Rhode Island, wrote in June 1864:
I think, Mr. Editor, that, under God, this will yet be a pleasant land for the colored man to dwell in, the declarations of colonizationists to the contrary, notwithstanding. Step by step we are emerging from darkness into light. One by one the scales that have so long blinded our raceignorance and superstition are falling off; prejudice, with all its concomitant evils, is fast giving way; men begin to reason and think of us in a rational and religious way. As a people, we begin to think of our race as something more than vassals, and goods, and chattles; and with this increasing good opinion of ourselves, we make all people respect us. (McPherson, 315)
Above quoted passages are reprinted by permission from
The Negro’s Civil War ©
1965 by Ballantine Books