Monday, November 2, 2009

The Difficulties in Reading The Goophered Grapevine

Chesnutt's "The Goophered Grapevine" was not an easy read. The dialect in which Chesnutt used in his story is what made this piece difficult. The dialect was that of an ex-slave. His poor use of the english language shows the divide between the whites and the black ex-slaves. I found myself re-reading Uncle Julius' story many times in an attempt to comprehend what he was trying to say. This story would have been more difficult to understand listening to it face to face. When we read this dialect, we can at least go over it repeatedly and slow down in order to process what is being said.

The word "goophered" was an entertaining word for bewitchment. From here, the story is one of mysticism and the unusual. However, the length of the story by Uncle Julius did nothing to help in understanding his words most of the time. I couldn't wait to get to the end of the story. All the language does in this case is confuse the mind from the actual story itself. It baffles the mind how anyone could understand anything that Uncle Julius was saying.

Although I found the length of the story to be too long, the story was entertaining. The "goophered" vineyard and the results of the bewitchment made for an interesting tall tale. It reminded me of a story that as it gets re-told over time, it becomes more exaggerated and mystical. The story is quite unbelievable, which explains why the northerner and his wife bought the vineyard regardless of the advice given by Uncle Julius. Of course, ending on a humorous note, the last paragraph questions the truth of the story, "I found, when I bought the vineyard, that Uncle Julius had occupied a cabin on the place for many years, and derived a respectable revenue from the neglected grapevines." It is obvious that Uncle Julius' story was told as a means of keeping prospective buyers away, so he could continue collecting a profit off the old grapevines.

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