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Command Performances: Black Storytellers in Stuart's "Blink" and Chesnutt's "The Dumb Witness"

Command Performances: Black Storytellers in Stuart's "Blink" and Chesnutt's "The Dumb Witness" Command Performances: Black Storytellers in Stuart's "Blink" and Chesnutt's "The Dumb Witness" by Peter Schmidt In one of many notorious scenes near the end of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn (1885), Tom Sawyer tries to persuade Jim to tame a rattlesnake during his imprisonment in order to give his ordeal more style and "glory": "Why, Mars Tom, I doan' want no sich glory. Snake take 'n bite Jim's chin off, den whah is de glory? No, sah, I doan' want no sich doin's. . . . Ef you en Huck fetches a rattlesnake in heah for me to tame, I's gwyne to leave, dat's shore." "Well, then, let it go, let it go, if you're so bullheaded about it. We can get you some garter-snakes and you can tie some buttons on their tails, and let on they're rattlesnakes, and I reckon that'll have to do." (235) This dialogue from Chapter 38 exemplifies a basic feature of comedy-- one character with enough power over another to make the comic victim do just about anything. The fact that race is at the center of this unequal power relation, however, introduces complications -- at least, for many © 2002 by the http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Command Performances: Black Storytellers in Stuart's "Blink" and Chesnutt's "The Dumb Witness"

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 35 (1) – Jun 3, 2002

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2002 by the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461
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Abstract

Command Performances: Black Storytellers in Stuart's "Blink" and Chesnutt's "The Dumb Witness" by Peter Schmidt In one of many notorious scenes near the end of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn (1885), Tom Sawyer tries to persuade Jim to tame a rattlesnake during his imprisonment in order to give his ordeal more style and "glory": "Why, Mars Tom, I doan' want no sich glory. Snake take 'n bite Jim's chin off, den whah is de glory? No, sah, I doan' want no sich doin's. . . . Ef you en Huck fetches a rattlesnake in heah for me to tame, I's gwyne to leave, dat's shore." "Well, then, let it go, let it go, if you're so bullheaded about it. We can get you some garter-snakes and you can tie some buttons on their tails, and let on they're rattlesnakes, and I reckon that'll have to do." (235) This dialogue from Chapter 38 exemplifies a basic feature of comedy-- one character with enough power over another to make the comic victim do just about anything. The fact that race is at the center of this unequal power relation, however, introduces complications -- at least, for many © 2002 by the

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jun 3, 2002

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