Talking Book

Production Notes #4 – Annie and Chesnutt’s “Fusion”


As an exercise, our department has produced a hypothetical inner thought of Annie’s regarding her husband’s more “judgemental behaviors.” It seems to fit Chesnutt’s portrayal of Annie well–the wife who wants to think the best of these crazy stories Julius brings to them, while also believing in giving these workers a “fair try,” even if they do not live up to the standards John is expecting.

When considering the fact that Chesnutt desired a “complete race-amalgamation” which would “deliver African Americans from oppression” we might view Annie’s perspective as one desiring such an outcome. We’re walking a fine line here, of course. We do risk Annie’s portrayal in this audiobook as coming off too patronizing–that is, a pitying and a feeling sorry for the African Americans in the narrative in a way which still reinstates the hierarchy. Regardless, I think Annie’s voice can be one which is re-framing an understanding of the role the African Americans can play in the lives of these characters. In our exercise to imagine that Annie would wonder what “life outside of chains” would feel like and how Tom could be “[taken] under his wing” represents, in some ways, a desire for equality among these characters. We still have the employer/employee dynamic here, but I think there’s opportunity here to use Annie as a figure who desires to see African Americans in society escape their positions as being “economically subjugated and politically disenfranchised.” With this, I think we’re on the way to a very dynamic and faithful representation of Chesnutt’s work.

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