Celia, A Slave...

Celia, A Slave...

Length: 1459 words (4.2 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
CELIA, A SLAVE. A MIRROR TO SLAVERY AND INJUSTICE?
A critical overview

Celia, a Slave was a factual interpretation of one isolated incident that depicted common slave fear during the antebellum period of the United States. Melton A. McLaurin, the author, used this account of a young slave woman's struggle through the undeserved hardships of rape and injustice to explain to today's naive society a better depiction of what slavery could have been like. The story of Celia illustrates the root of racial problems Americans still face in their society. Although not nearly as extreme, they continue to live in a white-male dominated culture that looks down upon African-Americans, especially females. McLaurin looks at the views of the time, and speculates the probabilities of this pre - Civil War era, the values of which still pierce daily life in the United States.

"The American constitution recognized slavery as a local constitution within the legal rights of the individual states. But in the North slavery was not adaptable to the local economy, and to many, it contradicted the vision of the founding fathers for a nation in which all men are to be free. The South considered slavery as a necessary institution for the plantation economy. It was linked to the local culture and society. As the United states expanded, the North worried that the South would introduce slavery into the new territories. Slavery had become both a moral issue and a question of political power." (Kral p61)

This account of enduring adversity begins with a man by the name of Robert Newsom. After his wife passed away he apparently craved the need for sexual fulfillment. He came to the conclusion that the best possible way to nourish his craving was by purchasing a young, healthy slave to keep as his personal "mistress". So at the age of 14, Celia became a white-man's sexual object. Over time Celia accepted her role in the Newsom household and bore two of Newsom's children. Towards the end of her five years at the Newsom farm she began a personal romance with another slave by the name of George. Finally, George's masculine pride erupted and he demanded that Celia end this sexual relationship with Newsom. Celia went to Newsom in an effort to stop the nature of their affair, but was unsuccessful in doing so. Out of desperation it is believed that Celia even went to Newsom's two daughters, Virginia and Mary, who still lived with their father, to plead protection from him and his enforced sexual interactions, with no luck once again.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Celia, A Slave...." 123HelpMe.com. 24 Jan 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=156545>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Is Celia A Slave? Essay

- In Celia, A Slave, a slave named Celia was sent to court because she committed homicide. However, the murder was justified, because she was trying to defend herself from her slave owner, Robert Newsom, who was attempting to rape her once again. This time around, Celia attempted to protect herself by striking Newsom, just in order to daze him for a bit. She did not intend to kill the man, but simply keep him away from her. Unfortunately, in Missouri in 1850, the only person that would be protected by law would be the slave owner, when it came to the rape of a slave....   [tags: Slavery, Black people, Racism]

Research Papers
1026 words (2.9 pages)

Celia, A Slave by Melton McLaurin Essay

- Melton McLaurin vividly describes the life of a sexually abused slave who fought back in the non-fictional memoir titled Celia, A Slave. As the story began, the 1800s were impassioned with one civil disagreement between two sides of the United States—whether the nation should legally end or perpetuate human enslavement (16). Slavery was particularly and heavily supported by the citizens of the Calloway County, the home of Robert Newsom (19). The proof of increased crop production through slave labor convinced Newsom to begin his investment in black slaves (20)....   [tags: sexually abused slave, controversial trial]

Research Papers
1206 words (3.4 pages)

Celia, A Slave, By Melton Mclaurin Essay

- Celia, a Slave, a book by author Melton McLaurin, shows the typical relationship between a slave woman and her master in America during the 1850s. The story is the perfect example of how relationships between slave and their masters and other non-blacks within the community. This is shown through Celia’s murder of her slave owner, Robert Newsom. It was also shown through the community’s reaction that was involved in unraveling her court case. The Celia personal story illustrated how slave women was treated by their slave owners and how the laws wasn’t effective at protecting slave during the 1850s....   [tags: Slavery in the United States, Slavery]

Research Papers
779 words (2.2 pages)

Celia, A Slave, By Melton Mclaurin Essay

- Celia, a Slave is a true story of a fourteen-year-old female slave purchased from Audrain County, Missouri by a wealthy, middle-aged, widowed, landowner named Robert Newsom from Callaway County, Missouri. Celia was the first woman of five slaves Newsom owned. She was purchased to take the place of Newsom’s late wife. In 1855, Celia was charged with killing her master after being continuously raped by him for several years. In Melton McLaurin’s Celia, A Slave, McLaurin exemplifies the oppressive difficulties of a female slave in Missouri in the 1850s....   [tags: Slavery, Slavery in the United States]

Research Papers
756 words (2.2 pages)

Celia, A Slave By Melton Mclaurin Essay

- Celia’s remarkable and fascinating account illustrates the complex issues that lie in the American foundation of a slaveholding society in Callaway County, Missouri. The slavery system grew into a nightmare of cruelty and abuse during this dark period. In the book Celia, A Slave by Melton McLaurin, the historian succeeds to convey the story of a slave girl by the name of Celia who suffers repeatedly sexual exploitation by her master and ultimately hanged for his murder. This event took place during a dark period of the antebellum America....   [tags: Slavery, Slavery in the United States, Law]

Research Papers
867 words (2.5 pages)

Melton A. McLaurin's Celia, A Slave Essay

- Celia, A Slave is a novel that narrates a teenage girl from located in the banks of the Missouri river in Calloway County. The story of the young girl defined the significance Gender in this historical discourse of this young slave. The newly settled slave holders in Calloway County in 1850 have included Robert Newsom who was a man of statute in terms of wealth and power. This is manifested in the novel because many slaveholders made their living by purchasing slaves. The reflection of this is the case of Robert Newsom who made his living by buying six slaves who will be responsible....   [tags: novels, literary analysis]

Research Papers
1249 words (3.6 pages)

The Trial of Celia, A Slave Essay

- The author focused on the historical event that took place to support how they affected Celia indirectly. I enjoyed reading the book but I felt angry toward Newsom, his family and the court. The fact that human beings can be bought and sold as an object, for the owner’s pleasure, is loathsome. I was angry toward Newsom for rapping Celia continuously for five years without getting any punishment for his actions. Newsom’s daughter, being aware of their father’s action wasn’t able to confront him, due to being a woman and the financial support Newsom provided....   [tags: human rights, struggle, master]

Research Papers
577 words (1.6 pages)

Celia As Slave By Mclaurin Essay

- The book “Celia as Slave” by McLaurin emphasizes the life of an African American teenager young girl slave named Celia. This real story of Celia demonstrates the social, political and sexual ramifications during this horrible time in American history. Celia who was purchased at the age of fourteen by a farmed named Robert Newsom. This Machiavellian “man” If he can be called one, loses his wife leaving him with two young daughters. Newsom has apparently become in a sexual need where he becomes using innocent girl “Celia” as a sexual object....   [tags: Slavery in the United States, Slavery, Antebellum]

Research Papers
709 words (2 pages)

Celia, A Slave... Essay

- CELIA, A SLAVE. A MIRROR TO SLAVERY AND INJUSTICE. A critical overview Celia, a Slave was a factual interpretation of one isolated incident that depicted common slave fear during the antebellum period of the United States. Melton A. McLaurin, the author, used this account of a young slave woman's struggle through the undeserved hardships of rape and injustice to explain to today's naive society a better depiction of what slavery could have been like. The story of Celia illustrates the root of racial problems Americans still face in their society....   [tags: Slavery racism prejudice]

Free Essays
1459 words (4.2 pages)

Celia, A Slave Essay

- Celia, a Slave was a factual interpretation of one isolated incident that depicted common slave fear during the antebellum period of the United States. McLaurin used this account of a young slave woman's struggle through the undeserved hardships of rape and injustice to explain to today's naive society a better depiction of what slavery could have been like. The story of Celia illustrates the root of racial problems we still face in our society. Although not nearly as extreme, we continue to live in a white-male dominated culture that looks down upon African-Americans, especially females....   [tags: Melton Alonza McLaurin]

Free Essays
974 words (2.8 pages)

As a last resort Celia threatened Newsom's life in order to preserve her love for George. Newsom, despite Celia's threats, came to her cabin one night. Celia was prepared for this to occur and she had stashed away a large stick. When Newsom came to the cabin, she retrieved the stick and hit Newsom upon the head, which knocked him out. The first account of the murder states that Newsom was grabbing for her and she hit him once more out of fear, which then killed him. The second account, and the more likely of the two, was, "as soon as I struck him the Devil got into me, and I struck him with the stick until he was dead, then rolled him in the fire and burnt him up" (McLaurin, p135). As the second account reveals, she disposed of the body by placing it in the fireplace and burning it as much as possible. It didn't take long for the Newsom family to realize the absence of the family patriarch, and search for him began. When no body was discovered, the search party reverted to the slaves, and it didn't take long for Celia to confess the crime. The entire situation unfolded extremely quickly. Then came the extensive legal process, which definitely did not go without prejudice, fear or fairness for that matter. First, according to law everybody in the States has the right to defend himself in front of a jury of his/her fellow mates. That would have meant Celia having been able to have a trial in front of a jury of black, slave women, who in turn would probably have justified her deed. The other great misfortune of her's was fear. Fear of white's, not only males, but females too, a fear so intense they had not even mentioned Newsom's multiple accounts of rape the last result of which Celia had been carrying. This happened because black people were treated and thought of as property, and nothing more. This phycologically helped the Atlantic slave-trade and liberated white slaveholders of crimes against them. Had they have acknowledged the act of rape against Celia, they would have had to recognize that blacks are also people, and that would have caused a moral crisis on many levels in a white patriarchal society. The process resulted in a very predictable verdict of guilty. Celia was sentenced to death and was then hung one December day after giving birth to her third child, who had been still-born.
McLaurin shows how this perverted overbearing act of rape can be turned around and made seem as though it was just. In this time period the views were very skewed as explained above. After the Civil War was when misconceptions and notions began to change. Though the change was slow to occur, it eventually began to work its way through society. Due to significant figures that pushed the limits of race, such as W.E.B. Dubois, people's minds slowly but surely accepted different attitudes and more open minds toward African Americans. While so much has changed over time, many stigmas have yet to ware off. For one, that blacks are subordinate in some way to white people is still very prevalent today. In the struggle for Affirmative Action, people are striving to be equal. Garry Willis explains in his book, Inventing America, that the belief of "all men are created equal", as stated in the Declaration of Independence, "was not only not self-evident, , but not [even] true" (Willis, p207). The problem was that many people thought of this as it being only a mystical phrase, like all are equal, BUT only before law, or in the the eyes of God perhaps. Thomas Jefferson's intention and opinion on this issue can be best cought in his draft instruction for the Virginia delegation for the 1774 Continental Congress. In it he questions the lack of real reason "why 160.000 electors in the island of Great Britain should give law to four million in the states of America [without of course being represented in the British Parliament but for the King himself], every individual of whom is equal to every individual of them in virtue, in understanding, and in bodily strength?" (Willis p208). So Jefferson himself was also prejudiced and, and having held Negro slaves himself, had not the slightest of intention to declare that African-American and whites were equal in any way.
Another issue still being grappled with is that women are still seen as less than men. A common problem in corporate America for females is what many people know as "the glass ceiling", where women can see the top, but can't seem to reach it. Prejudice has dominated America since it was settled by the colonists hundreds of years ago. It started with hatred of the Native Americans and continued all the way until modern times with the current phobia of people of middle-eastern descent, especially since 9/11. Basically people need to feel in control, and without that feeling of dominance they create new ways to be superior. With one group in control, the balance of power in set until something disrupts it and it must settle again. In the case of African-Americans, the dust is still settling. Integration didn't really get going until about forty years ago, and the U.S. has traveled in leaps and bounds since then. Regardless of their achievements as a country, there is still much work to be done on this field.
Celia, a Slave shows the reader where the United States, the country, has come from, but also how far it must go before its people can begin to feel no prejudices, which will probably never happen. Although it will probably never happen it still needs to be fought for, otherwise nothing will be accomplished. Today, although, unfortunately racism still exists, and is still an issue in their culture and politics, it is no longer the driving force and has taken a back seat to intellect and effort.

Works cited

• McLaurin, Melton A..Celia, a Slave. Athens, Georgia, University of Georgia Press, 1991.

• Kral, Thomas. American Panorama. Washington D.C.. Review Branch, 1995.

• Willis, Garry. Inventing America – Jefferson's Declaration of independence. New York. Random House, 1979.
Return to 123HelpMe.com