The marrow of tradition
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Chesnutt uses several pairs of characters to represent the dual nature of race tensions in the late nineteenth century South. The first pair is Tom and Sandy, both members of the Delamere family. This is an example of irony; Tom represents the decline of white aristocracy while Sandy, the former slave, represents the only hope of the white family’s ongoing integrity. The second pair is Janet Miller and Olivia Carteret. Descended from the same father, this pair leads parallel lives in different racial worlds, ultimately representing Chesnutt’s belief that both black and white must find ways to coexist and respect each other in order to advance Southern society.