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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: 23 September 2021

A Question of Passing or a Question of Conscience

A Question of Passing or a Question of Conscience

Toward Resolving the Ending of Mandy Oxendine

(p.93) A Question of Passing or a Question of Conscience
Passing in the Works of Charles W. Chesnutt

Donald B. Gibson

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter discusses Mandy Oxendine’s problematic ending—problematic because it invites the reader to speculate about what happens to its main characters after the novel’s close. The narrator, instead of telling the reader what happens, provides alternatives about what might have happened, refusing to provide any certainties relating to the main characters’ future. Chesnutt does, however, control the character and direction of what we do not know. Chesnutt made an emphatic stance against passing in this novel in large part by setting forth the possible fates of Mandy and Tom with regard to their passing for white, inviting the reader to share that conclusion. The novel is, at its center, a cautionary tale that strongly warns of the pitfalls and dangers of passing.

Keywords:   problematic ending, emphatic stance, passing, cautionary tale, dangers of passing

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