The Wife of His Youth

Study Guide for The Wife of His Youth

Remember, for our purposes satire is defined as a technique employed by writers to expose and criticize foolishness and corruption. Chesnutt uses satire as social criticism to targets injustice and disparity in institutions of power, including government, businesses, and even individuals.:

The three overarching types of satire are:

  1. Menippean satire criticizes mental attitudes and ridicules character types, such as single- minded people, such as bigots, misers, and braggarts.
  2. Horatian satire is marked by joviality and hilarity although moralizing
  3. Juvenalian is austere, harsh, and often punitive in tone


  • Which forms of satire are used in this story? Give examples using concrete examples from the text.
  • What is the moral of the story?
  • Are there examples in the story that you feel deserve a heavier or lighter hand to instill the point?
  • Does this story use irony or sarcasm? Give examples using concrete examples from the text.
  • Is this a gentle short story? How does Chesnutt portray Liza Jane?
  • What facts does the story impart about slavery? What are some of the customs? How are these customs used to create plot?
  • How is the reader to feel about Mr. Ryder? Do these feelings change over the course of the story?
  • How does Chesnutt treat the Blue Vein Club? Is he an advocate or a critic?
  • How does Mrs. Dixon respond to Liza Jane? What passages in the text support your answer?
  • How does Chesnutt portray Mrs. Dixon? How would you describe her personality?
  • Do you think the story invites the reader to prefer Mrs. Dixon over Liza or Liza Jane over Mrs. Dixon? Do you think Chesnutt intends for the reader to make a choice? If not, why not?
  • If you were Mr. Ryder, who would you choose and why?
  • Discuss the way(s) you would have the story end?


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Charles Chesnutt in the Classroom by Adrienne Johnson Gosselin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.