Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion


While black Southerners were expected to work from sun up to sun down, white Southerners embraced and encouraged idleness among their own.
Chesnutt challenges popular efforts to idealize the Southern past and uplift white idleness in the South. This is evident in this scene in the contrast between John and Annie's newfound "restfulness" and the child laborer "walking straight as an arrow, with a piggin full of water on her head."

In The Souls of Black Folk (1903),* W.E.B. Du Bois describes the juxtaposition of the industrialized, racialized labor in the U.S. South that sustains a white, upper-class social strata and the national character of the region as "sleep," "dull," and "drowsy": *Permalink:

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