Charles W. Chesnutt hoped that inviting his white readers to empathize with likeable African American characters would lead them to reconsider their racist prejudices. Paul Marchand F.M.C. (not published until 1998) is a particularly interesting example because it features a protagonist whose racial identity changes over the course of the story, ultimately embracing a cosmopolitan outlook he perceives as existing outside of race. For this reason, it is important to examine the ways in which the narrative guides readers’ feelings. Using a cognitivist narratological approach, the essay argues that Chesnutt strategically uses authorial empathy to encourage readers to feel with and for his cosmopolitan hero and against a racist American society that threatens to destroy the bond between him and his family. This appeal to readers’ emotions supports the novel’s moral critique of white supremacy. Given that scholars in a variety of disciplines have suggested that empathy and emotion play a crucial role in motivating people to develop cosmopolitan understanding and solidarity, such a strategy seems both pertinent and effective, even as it comes with some inevitable representational risks.

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