Shared Subjugation: Acadians and African Americans in Kate Chopin's Bayou Folk




Emerson, Susanna

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In comparing the ways in which Kate Chopin depicts Acadian and African American characters in three of her Bayou Folk stories, this thesis presents a new way to examine her treatment of subjugated characters. Though other critics have often focused on Chopin‟s female characters, this paper instead serves to introduce another distinct and often overlooked group of subjugated people: the lower-class, white Acadians (who were distinguished from socially “superior” Creoles) and the lower-class, racially discriminated African Americans. The stories examined closely include “A Gentleman of Bayou Têche,” “The Wizard from Gettysburg,” and “In Sabine.” While Chopin‟s representations often place Acadians and African Americans in opposition to one another, this thesis argues that Chopin also portrays their shared poverty, disempowerment, and even their teamwork. Pitted against a late nineteenth-century society that tended to categorize and demean them, the Acadians and African Americans in Kate Chopin‟s Bayou Folk emerge as more complex characters whose contradicting images reveal that Chopin did not merely understand the plight of women but that of other subjugated groups as well.



Short stories, In Sabine, The Wizard from Gettysburg, A Visit to Avoyelles, A Gentleman of Bayou Teche, Race, Ethnicity