Sleep Fictions: A Digital Companion


In the twelfth chapter of Chesnutt's The House Behind the Cedars (1900),* George Tryon waits for Dr. Green in the physician's office: “Finding the armchair wonderfully comfortable, and feeling the fatigue of his journey, he yielded to a drowsy impulse, leaned his head on the cushioned back of the chair, and fell asleep” (106). His nap is disturbed by a visitor, who enters the office looking for Dr. Green. Tryon struggles to rouse himself: Tryon was in that state of somnolence in which one may dream and yet be aware that one is dreaming, . . . The shock was sufficient to disturb Tryon's slumber, and he struggled slowly back to consciousness” (107). When he realizes the race of the caller, he feels “a momentary touch of annoyance that a negro woman should have intruded herself into his dream at its most interesting point” (107). Nestled in the doctor’s cozy office, Tryon is affronted by a black woman’s invasion into his private moment of slumber.


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