The Adventure of the Yellow Face

Treatment of race

Doyle's sympathetic treatment of interracial marriage, between an Englishwoman and a black lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, might at first appear extraordinarily liberal for the 1890s. Though the story has the widow treating her dead husband's race as a secret whose revelation might entail very negative reactions, the marriage is clearly not illegal in Britain, and her second husband's loving response is reported approvingly by Watson. This story, however, should be set alongside Doyle's unpleasantly stereotyped caricature of a thuggish black boxer, in "The Adventure of the Three Gables" (1926). The earlier story was written at the end of Reconstruction, at a time when many people still had high hopes for America's recovery and racial reconciliation after the traumas of slavery and the Civil War; the later story was written during what some historians call "the Nadir of race relations", roughly the first half of the 20th century, when segregation was intensified and interracial hostility often had free rein.[1]

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