Christian Rhetoric in The History of Mary Prince and Second Class Citizen

Christian Rhetoric in The History of Mary Prince and Second Class Citizen

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Christian Rhetoric in Mary Prince’s The History of Mary Prince, and Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen


It is true, perhaps, that women are the subset of humanity whose rights had been the longest stripped of them, and who had been abused the worst and for the longest time. Even today, many people believe that women still do not have the equality that ought to be afforded them. Since women first started making steps to approach that ideal equality, they have used various means, including literature, to further their cause. Both Mary Prince’s The History of Mary Prince, as well as Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen, use language of Christian rhetoric to simultaneously cast their characters and themselves as sinners and the redeemed and righteous as well as portraying the journey of redemption between one and the other. This subconscious wording engenders fellowship in their readers, who can relate to the story of the redeemed, and who exist in an overwhelmingly moral and Christian society.
The use of Christian rhetoric as a means to instill empathy in the reader is first and foremost evident in the specific language of the texts. The word choice of the author subtly highlights Christian ideals with direct relevance to the author and character herself. For example, Prince recalls a time after the white slave owners pulled down the slaves’ prayer shed, saying, “A flood came down soon after and washed away many houses, filled the place with sand and overflowed the ponds: and I do think that this was for their wickedness; for the Buckra men there were very wicked” (Prince 19). Prince’s use of the word wickedness here implies some sort of tie to Christianity. There is a vast array of words that could fit in the place of “wic...


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...to view the writer’s work as in concert with Christian ideals and ideology, therefore establishing, in the mind of the reader, a thorough connection between the writer and their cause, and what the reader perceives, most likely, as moral and good. This holds true especially in Mary Prince’s The History of Mary Prince, as well as Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen, both of who use Christian rhetoric in a subconscious, literal, and in the case of Prince, plot-oriented manner. This causes their respective audiences to see them and their causes, through their characters, as righteous, therefore successfully fulfilling the purpose of using such language.


Works Cited

Emecheta, Buchi. Second-class Citizen. New York: G. Braziller, 1975. Print.

Prince, Mary. The History of Mary Prince: a West Indian Slave Narrative. Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, 2004. Print.

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