Dick Owens has fallen deeply in love with Miss Charity Lomax. But like so many love stories in the past, Charity wants more from her man. She wants Dick to be heroic. Charity wants Dick to prove that he is heroic enough to help a slave earn his freedom. Dick tells Charity that he would do anything for her. Charity doesn’t believe Dick and tells him, “Seeing’s believing.”
So now to prove to Charity that he is brave, he decides to plan a trip north and take a slave with him as a “ body guard.” Using this cover Dick’s dad willing abides. Now the first thing I see wrong with Dick so-called “heroism” is that it’s for the wrong reason. He is not doing this to help a slave from the goodness of his heart; he is doing this to prove to some girl that he is good enough for her. The second thing I noticed was that he didn’t take a slave that wants to leave. His first choice is to take Tom a slave he knew would want to run away. Although his father does not allow Dick to take Tom because, he knows that Tom is untrustworthy. Instead his father wants him to bring Grandison. Grandison does not seem to want to leave the plantation. Mr. Owens even tells Grandison, “And if you please your master Dick, he ‘ll buy you a present, and a string of beads for Betty to wear when you and she get married in the fall.”
I find it sort of an ironic situation that Grandison and Dick find themselves in. If they both return home, then Dick will not prove to Charity he is a hero, but if only Dick returns home he will impress Charity but that means Grandison will have to give up everything. Doesn’t seem too heroic to me. Grandison becomes very frustrated will all the abolitionists, and wants to go back home. Dick finally just has to run away from Grandison so that when he comes home Charity will marry him. Chesnutt has almost put the two characters in each other’s shoes, normal in a story like this the slave runs away to be with the women he loves.
When Dick lies to- Charity what he has done she is shocked, “Oh, Dick,” she had said with shuddering alarm, “what have you done? If they knew it they ‘d send you to the penitentiary, like they did that Yankee.” Now she feels trapped, “You know I never dreamed of any such outrageous proceeding. But I presume I ‘ll have to marry you.” After everything he has done she stills doesn’t seem to really love him, hero or not?