In a novel rejected by a major publisher in the late nineteenth century as too shocking for its time, Charles W. Chesnutt challenges the notion that race, class, education, and gender must define where one’s "rightful" place in society should be. Both a romance and a mystery, Mandy Oxendine tells the compelling story of two fair-skinned, racially mixed lovers who choose to live on opposite sides of the color line; Tom Lowrey remains in the black community, and Mandy Oxendine chooses to pass for white. An alluring young woman, Mandy also is courted by an unscrupulous white landowner who is killed while sexually assaulting her. Critics have tended to characterize Chesnutt as being of the "Uncle Tom" school of African-American writers. Publication of Mandy Oxendine, set aside by the author and left untranscribed in an archive for years, may do much to revise that interpretation.
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