In "The Marrow of Tradition," by Charles W. Chesnutt, we have a strong, virile and exciting novel of contemporary Southern life. The story involves the fate of a child for whom its parents predict a bright future, but for whom a superstitious old black nurse sees grave misfortunes ahead--a fancy which seems curiously born out by an adverse fate. There are an interesting love story, an injury avenged with Old Testament rigor and a greater wrong nobly forgiven. Among the characters are an editor, who heads a reactionary political movement in a Southern State, set off against whom is an educated colored man seeking by wise methods to elevate his people. The families of these two, as part of the sad heritage of slavery, are bounded by an unacknowledged tie, which furnishes the material for an interesting plot, much fine psychological analysis and several strong situations, one of which is novel in fiction and tremendous in emotional interest. Among the incidents are a crime and a projected lynching by which an innocent man's life is endangered. The story culminates in a riot (the main facts of which are true to recent history), in which all the threads are gathered up and wrought into an artistic climax.
With a clear conception of the difficult problems which confront the South, and yet with decided opinions where justice and wisdom lie, Mr. Chesnutt has constructed a story which sweeps the reader along to an end at once artistic and satisfying. In its dramatic qualities, as well as in theme, it bears a decided likeness to "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
Anon. "Review of The Marrow of Tradition." New York Press. (Nov. 2, 1901): 7.