The central theme of "The Wife of His Youth" by Charles Waddell Chesnutt was the placement in society of those with African-American ancestry combined with another race in the late 19th century. The story discusses the plight of those of mixed blood in both the 19th and early 20th centuries.Continue Reading
Central to the theme of the story is Chestnutt's in-depth presentation of the main characters. He moves away from the literary norm of his day, which depicts those of mixed race as tragic figures trying to blend into white society, and instead presents his characters as those who are proud of their race and working towards acceptance.
The pride that Chestnutt's main characters show is somewhat hindered by the hypocritical nature of the main character who belongs to the "Blue Vein Society." This group consists of those of mixed heritage who have skin light enough that the veins that show through are blue in color. His choice in a wife is intended to help lighten up his African-American race so that their children would be more acceptable to the white mainstream society. Despite this attempt to lighten his progeny, he also believes that by the 1920s, African-Americans will have made strides towards creating their own rich culture, filled with art, music and philosophy, and led by an educated elite.Learn more about Literature