Swallow Barn and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

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Swallow Barn and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Relationships, regardless of the nature, can be as subjective as their individual participants. As well, stories are usually told from a single perspective. The works of literature, Swallow Barn and Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl, that will be examined in this essay are as different as black and white, figuratively and literally. It is no wonder then, that the relationships between master and slave are depicted with the same degree of variation. To understand such a diverse set of paintings – literature, it is necessary to know the artists who have produced the works: to include their race, social standing, economic situation, politics and gender. This essay will attempt to shed light on all. Swallow Barn, by John Pendleton Kennedy, is romantic portrayal of the Old South.(Andrews,59) Kennedy wrote about a life that he knew and from a perspective that was familiar. While “Kennedy did not grow up on a plantation but in the city of Baltimore, where his father, a prosperous merchant, and his mother, who came from a highly regarded Virginia family, gave him every educational advantage; eventually graduating first in his class from Baltimore College”. (59) “He was admitted to the Maryland state bar in 1816, and later married Elizabeth Gray, the daughter of a wealthy manufacturer.” (59) According to the text, “Kennedy was no stranger to plantation life, having often vised the Bower, the ancestral home of his wife's family in western Virginia.” (59) It can be theorized that this exposure, without total immersion, into the Southern plantation prompted a romanticized ideal of this lifestyle; thus, producing the same in Swallow Barn. This idea begins immediately for the reader with Kennedy's description of “Swallow Barn as an aristocratical old edifice, that squats, like a brooding hen, on the southern bank of the James River. It is quietly seated in 1 a kind of shady pocket or nook, formed by a sweep of the stream, on a gentle acclivity thinly sprinkled with oaks, whose magnificent branches afford habitation and defence...” (60) In this description, the reader can be led to assume that life for the inhabitants of this sanctuary is likely protected, calm and amiable. This would include the relationships of Frank Meriwether and his slaves. This is supported further by the anthologists who said, “Kennedy portrayed black people as serene in their servitude”.(Andrews, 59) Was this intentional? I believe that it was. However, these master and slave

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