Essay, Research Paper: Wife Of His Youth


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People often make the categories of race, class, gender, sexuality, age,
physical condition, etc., contend for the title of most oppressed. Within
“race,” various populations groups then compete for that top spot. Through
the book, The Wife of His Youth, by Charles Wadell Chesnutt one can learn that
racism existed within the “race,” colored mattered, and that racism evolves
throughout the racial history. Racism existed within the race. People within the
groups competed to be at the top. In The Wife of His Youth, the main character
Mr. Ryder is a highly respected man in his society called the Blue Veins. The
Blue Veins is a society for the colored people who have white skin that their
veins show. Mr. Ryder is faced with a situation where he has to choose to stay
at the top by hiding the truth and marrying a highly respected woman in the Blue
Veins, Mrs. Molly Dixon or reveal his secret and be married to a woman who is
considered low among the races. However Mr. Ryder chooses to reveal that a
former slave is his wife, but in order for him to come to the conclusion he
struggles much about how the others would feel about this situation because
mostly likely people of his society would look down upon him. Color matters
within the race. In The Wife of His Youth, the Blue Veins is a society that does
not emphasize culture of the race, but how light the color of their skins are.
The people of the society must have really light skin to be even considered to
be a member of the Blue Veins. The wife of his youth, a former slave, Liza Jane
would never be considered to be a member of the Blue Veins because she was very
black and her social status in society was of a former plantation worker. One
could also see that Mr. Ryder struggles whether or not to reveal his secret to
the Blue Veins because colored mattered and he did not know if they would be
able to accept the fact that he was married to his ugly black woman. In
addition, Mr. Ryder had to somehow gain recognition from the Blue Veins that it
was okay to have a wife outside the approval of the race, the society. He asks,
“Shall you acknowledge her?” (p. 56) He wait for their nod of some kind of
positive reaction. Racism evolves; it has no single, permanently fixed set of
characteristics. Racism is not a set theory in the minds of the people, but
instead a theory that constantly changes according to the time and the needs of
the environment. Mr. Ryder in the Blue Veins who was in a high position who
accepted only the light-colored is able to reconsider his status for the wife of
his youth. He was able to persuade the Blue Veins so that the wife of his youth
can be accepted in the society. Also by reading The Wife of His Youth, one knows
that Mr. Ryder was a former slave, too who just happens to be free and of high
status at the present moment. After he becomes “a someone” in society he
wishes to forget about his past until the wife of his youth comes along his path
and makes his decide, truth or fame. Through the book, The Wife of His Youth,
one can learn that racism existed within the “race,” colored mattered, and
that racism evolves. The challenge is to understand the changes of racial
history and draw strength from our understandings. Also today one has to
acknowledge the fact that other races exist, not only blacks. In doing so, one
has to proceed with both boldness and infinite care. Talking race is an
intellectual minefield; for every social observation, one can find three
contradictions and four necessary qualifications. Crawling through the
complexity, it helps to think: “keep your eye on the prize, which is uniting
against the monster.”
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