Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) was an author, essayist and political activist whose works addressed the complex issues of racial and social identity at the turn of the century. Chesnutt's early works explored political issues somewhat indirectly, with the intention of changing the attitudes of Caucasians slowly and carefully. However, "The Marrow of Tradition" marked a turning point in Chesnutt's career, with its direct and overt treatment of racism and political injustices in the South. The story of the white Carterets and the mixed-race Millers, whose lives are intertwined because the wives are half sisters, delves into a wide range of social and race issues. The novel's depiction of lynchings that occurred during the Wilmington Race Riot proved to be too controversial for readers of the time; however, Chesnutt considered it his best, and modern critics have recognized the novel as a milestone in the Civil Rights movement.