The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales

The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales
  • Type of paperEssay (Any Type)
  • SubjectEnglish Literature
  • Number of pages3
  • Format of citationMLA
  • Number of cited resources1
  • Type of serviceWriting from scratch

Texts to read for essay


Richard Brodhead’s “Introduction” (in The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales)


Charles Chesnutt, The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales, Duke (Read Dave’s Neckliss)


Analytical Essay:

Write a 900- to 1100-word essay in which you analyze the conjure tale “Dave’s Neckliss”.  In particular, think about Richard Brodhead’s discussion of Charles Chesnutt’s status as a writer of color in his Introduction to our edition.  In what specific ways does Chesnutt’s point of view as a black writer influence his use of the conventions of the ghost story?  In other words, how does Chesnutt make his “conjure tale” say something about race relations?  Successful essays will contain a thesis statement that clearly argues what Chesnutt is saying about race relations in the story you have selected and will provide at least three or four concrete examples of how his use of a supernatural story helps him say that.



There is something I left out. The introduction needs a clear thesis, at least a one-sentence thesis that summarizes the argument of the entire paper. Something that answers how the short story by Chesnutt can be read as a commentary on race relations. In regards to that, I did have some notes from when I read it: Julius does seem to ultimately gain something from telling this story, the ham, his storytelling is how he survives. And because of the treatment Dave is subjugated to, he ultimately loses his the little sense of identity he did have. As for the rest of the paper, wherever there are direct examples from the story, there need to be some quotations the further strengthen the claim being made.


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The Conjure Woman and Other Conjure Tales

Charles W. Chesnutt’s stories in The Conjure Woman forms an incredible African American folklore making one of the most remarkable African American literatures. The work is clear selected and created by the editors to bring out the entire imaginative feat to see the original volume creation. It also depicts the tastes of the dominant literary cultures in the nineteenth century and how the cultures delimited and promoted his work. The conjure listens to a strong dialect speaking, black southerner edification, and enlightenment. Nevertheless, in Chesnutt’s hands, these traditions are transformed. They are no longer a flight of nostalgia for some. The stories question the culture of the folks ultimately and pungently conveying pressures and the anxieties of a world in conversion. The story was written in a time of change and enormous growth hence the call for the reunification in peace. Chesnutt was able to form an uneasy meeting ground for professionalism, northern capitalism, underdeveloped southern economy and Christianity. Chestnut uses his art to depict the edgy meeting grounds using the ruling figure of the conjure woman in the third world country whose power is manifest in magic spells, charms, and haunts.

After Dave is falsefully accused of stealing the Ham, he is made by the master to wear the Ham on a chain around his neck. After the lifting of the punishment, Dave loses his mind. This is the story that Uncle Julius lives to gain about most of the time getting the couples Sunday Ham or its leftovers and is also a self-interested entertainment for the John and Annie. At one time, Annie admits to John that “I couldn’t have eaten any more of that ham, and so I gave it to Julius” (Chesnutt, 10). Julius seems to gain something from telling this story, the ham ultimately; his storytelling is how he survives. And because of the treatment, Dave is subjugated to; he ultimately loses the little sense of identity he did have.

The “Dave’s Neckliss” is different from the others in several ways including the fact that it does not contain conjuring or magic. The slaves’ metamorphosis entailed subjective and psychological standpoints. The race relations are seen as Julius does not only tell the story of Dave and the Ham but plays an active role in discovering the hanging body of Dave. The cruelty of the slavery is seen unmistakably and immediately in “Dave’s Neckliss.” The story can capture and speak about the superstitions and the region of passion and feeling thereby acting as a pivot or transition moment in the author’s career. The race relations is seen again as the plantation genre is being abandoned with the sentimentalized stereotyping of the old south and blackness more suited to a frontal assault on white prejudice, inequality and in favor of vehicles less oblique.

Chesnutt’s “Dave’s Neckliss” condemns the slavery, racial inequality in a vigorous, outraged and the psychological effects caused by the performance. The race representation is satirically represented by the clarity and anger as Chesnutt dramatizes the relations of Christianity to race and racism. The Bible gives authority for the antebellum white slaveholding although this century showed the formation of African American churches and African American leaders who acted as a covenant between the God’s covenant and the American black people. Chesnutt even uses the satirical allegory of Noah’s curse to associate Dave’s punishment (Chesnutt, 25).

Charles W. Chesnutt uses art of humor, lyrical, heartbreaking and wisdom in his fictions to show the horrors of slavery to the modern reader which is done in an off-hand and in a tone depicting just what happened. Chesnutt representation of the race relations is observed when in this plantation era, the slaves and Uncle Julius are speaking the southern dialect which is harder for the reader to understand until they pick the rhythm. Julius used his charming stories in aiding others as he works through their care. The wok writes almost exclusively in the black vernacular, and the language authenticity is undeniable. The nostalgia for slavery was a part of black people as it was traditionally idealized. Nevertheless, the slaves are able to cope with life and overcome the overwhelming outside power.

The tales revolve around conjure men and women interfering with and resisting their plantation masters through magic and trickery. Uncle Julius is also trying to resist the influence of his new ‘masters’ too. The African-American oral tradition, in this case, is not regarding entertaining the white people but for resistance and survival in the injustice slavery era. Chesnutt is even trying to interpret the horrors of the slavery through dark folk tales of deceit, murder, violence, and even death. The white readership ability is investigated for its racial acculturation, and the literary genre is to focus on the over-determination of the Chesnutt’s literature. He shares his frustrations of the audience critique as the white readerly sympathy with black folks experience. This makes the tales more enjoyable to read, engaging and even memorable with the current events and the past regarding the racial relations.




Chesnutt, Charles Waddell. The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales. Duke University        Press, 1993.