Love, life and the Principles of Morality

The story of Charles Chestnut’s The Sheriff’s Children is about the relationship between the Sheriff, the father, and his illegitimate son Tom. The plot is set in Branson County, which is a rural community, with a predominantly white population. The Sheriff is an educated man, he served in the Confederate Army and came from a family that was wealthy, owning large tracts of land and had many slaves who worked in the farms. The events that lead to the death of captain Walker are not clearly defined, but after his death the members of the community believed that it was an African American who had committed that crime and the men wanted to lynch him. The Sheriff wanted justice for the young African American, being a man of honor he wanted the suspect be taken to court, and he stood his ground against the advances by the community men. The suspect Tom pleads with the Sheriff that he releases him. Tom believes that he will die anyway, that the Sheriff only saved his life for a moment, because he will not be able to prove his innocence. The African American is shot by his sister, when she came to the jail to check on his father. Tom bled to dead and alone. The theme of morality is evident in the Tom’s statement: "It was well enough for me to claim the relationship, but it comes with poor grace from you to ask anything by reason of it. What father's duty have you ever performed for me? Did you give me your name, or even your protection? Other white men gave their colored sons freedom and money, and sent them to the Free States. You sold me to the rice swamps." (Chesnutt 1)

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The story “Religion and the Pure Principles of Morality, The Sure Foundation on Which We Must Build” is a call for African American to rise up and stand for their rights. That African American should get knowledge that would help them be empowered. Join hands in using head-work to build schools and start businesses. It makes an appeal to love and unity that women should unite in groups. There is also an appeal to religion with quotes from the Old Testament that God will raise up and defend the African American with his outstretched arm unleashing the ten plagues of Egypt and his wrath.  The theme similar to the Sheriff’s story is that of racism and discrimination against blacks. The appeal to morality and love is evident in the statement:  Then why should man any longer deprive his fellowman of equal rights and privileges? (Maria)

Both works show the themes of race, responsibility to actions taken by each individual and appeal to morality to treat fellowmen equally in the same measure we would use to ourselves. As in the case of the Sheriff, he was trying to save his own son.

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