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Passing in the Works of Charles W. Chesnutt$
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Susan Prothro Wright and Ernestine Pickens Glass

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781604734164

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604734164.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM Mississippi SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.mississippi.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Mississippi, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSSO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

The Dream of History

The Dream of History

Memory and the Unconscious in Charles Chesnutt’s

The House behind the Cedars

(p.51) The Dream of History
Passing in the Works of Charles W. Chesnutt

Aaron Ritzenberg

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter discusses Charles Chesnutt’s novel, The House behind the Cedars, and how it transforms the exploration of history as a dream into an investigation of the mystery of our culture. Examining what is obscured from view, what lies “behind the cedars,” it can be seen that dreams in the novel have racial coordinates. On the one hand, there is the white dream—a fantasy that culture exists outside of material history. On the other hand, there is the black dream that the novel associates with an entrance into the unconscious and a resolution to remember. The black dream encompasses both the literal, sleeping dream, and the American dream of social mobility.

Keywords:   exploration of history, racial coordinates, white dream, black dream, the unconscious, sleeping dream, American dream, social mobility

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