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Neither Black Nor White Yet BothThematic Explorations of Interracial Literature$
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Werner Sollors

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780195052824

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195052824.001.0001

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The Bluish Tinge in the Halfmoon; or, Fingernails as a Racial Sign

The Bluish Tinge in the Halfmoon; or, Fingernails as a Racial Sign

(p.142) Chapter Five The Bluish Tinge in the Halfmoon; or, Fingernails as a Racial Sign
Neither Black Nor White Yet Both

Werner Sollors

Oxford University Press

The fingernail sign may need description and further explanation. This is the case in Storm's story, which presents the visual recognition taking place before Alfred had read anything about the sign, and in Boucicault's dialogue, where Zoe's long explanation stops dramatic action. Atherton lets the narrator mediate with an explanatory description, even though the argument is made in the text that the sign is instinctually visible. The description of the sign varies from dark shade to a bluish tinge and from an opal-tinted onyx to a half-moon. Upon other instances, the reader's familiarity with the motif seems to be taken for granted, hence requiring no description beyond the quickest reference to “telltale nails.” In some borderline cases, the mark may be assumed to be familiar to readers even when it is not explicitly written in the text.

Keywords:   fingernail, Storm, Alfred, Zoe, Atherton, bluish tinge, telltale nails, half-moon

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