A new outlook on pre-Civil War slavery is portrayed in Edward Jones' novel "The Known World". Unlike many well-known novels that cover slavery, Jones chose to focus on the thoughts and emotions of both the slaves and slave-owners and how they interact with each other. Set in a wealthy Virginia county, the practice of owning slaves is common to the white man and the black man as well. The main focus of the story is Henry Townsend, a black former slave that was bought out of slavery by his father, who was also a former slave. As time passes Henry never loses the admiration he has for his former master and looks to him as an idol. Much to his parent's disappointment Henry not only enjoys his life as a free black man after being bought by his parents, but also takes advantage of his right to own slaves. He does not feel guilty for owning slaves, but instead feels that he is adding to his legacy and worth. Henry feels that if someone didn't want to be a slave that they should pay for their freedom, just as his father had done. If they want freedom bad enough they will be able to obtain it in his eyes. But, when Henry dies it is his widow, Caldonia, a black woman that was born free, is torn between her loyalty to her race and loyalty to her deceased husband. Ultimately Caldonia stays true to the legacy that her husband had built, but it is understood that she does this due to pressure from society. Jones chooses to show the thoughts of his characters rather than tell them which undeniably gives greater depth to all of the characters. Through the actions of both slave and slave-owner alike "The Known World" shows that the world surrounding the institution of slavery has more to do with social status than it does with race and the color o... ... middle of paper ... ...e reader into the story. It is this detail, however, that made the story get off track during several scenes. In his story-writing Jones has a tendency to be talking about thing and then suddenly tangent off into another direction for a few pages. All of these different directions that the story is going can make it difficult to differentiate between past and present time as well as it may confuse the reader about which character is being described at a given time. The vocabulary of the novel was not difficult to comprehend and even jargon of the slaves, which can be difficult to translate, was easy to understand. Overall, as long as "The Known World" is read carefully enough and differentiation can be made between tales of the past and present, the novel successfully sheds light of aspects of pre-Civil War slavery that novels of the past have failed to do.
Click here to unlock this and over one million essaysShow More
The novel covered so much that high school history textbooks never went into why America has never fully recovered from slavery and why systems of oppression still exists. After reading this novel, I understand why African Americans are still racially profiled and face prejudice that does not compare to any race living in America. The novel left a mixture of frustration and anger because it is difficult to comprehend how heartless people can be. This book has increased my interests in politics as well and increased my interest to care about what will affect my generation around the world. Even today, inmates in Texas prisons are still forced to work without compensation because peonage is only illegal for convicts. Blackmon successfully emerged the audience in the book by sharing what the book will be like in the introduction. It was a strange method since most would have expected for this novel to be a narrative, but nevertheless, the topic of post Civil War slavery has never been discussed before. The false façade of America being the land of the free and not confronting their errors is what leads to the American people to question their integrity of their own
The novel showed a pivotal point prior to the Civil War and how these issues ultimately led to the fueling of quarrel between Americans. While such institutions of slavery no longer exist in the United States, the message resonates with the struggles many groups ostracized today who continue to face prejudice from those in higher
The novel starts the story at when Jane was a young slave. The Emancipation Proclamation was a decree announced my President Abraham Lincoln in September 1862 and formally issued on January 1, 1863, freeing slaves in all Confederate state still in rebellion (Abbott et al. 408). Jane and the other slaves where read the proclamation and where offered to stay on the plantation by their former slave master. The slaves then gather and decided if they should stay on the plantation of leave. In the time period many white where scared of that the now freed slave would do. The former slaves did not initially even dream of social equality; far less did they plot murder and mayhem, as the white people feared (Abbott et al. 439). Although the slave are set free the social frame work slavery continues.
A staunch abolitionist, Douglass would take the country by storm through the power of his words and writings. His narrative was unique in regards to how it was written and the content it holds. Unlike most biographies of freed slaves, Douglass would write his own story and with his own words. His narrative would attempt to understand the effects slavery was having on not just the slaves, but the slaveholders as well. The success of his biography, however, did not rest on the amount of horror in it but from the unmistakable authenticity it provided. His narrative would compel his readers to take action with graphic accounts of the lashes slaves would receive as punishment, “the loude...
The book is very clear about their treatment by their masters. It emphasizes on the cruel treatment they were going through from their different masters. They were degraded, with little or no freedom. There was extremely physical and emotional abuse. The owners had no respect for their slave lives and hardships.
For example, the majority of the film was concerned with the key question of “Where did they come from?” In Jones’ book, we learn very early on that the people in question had in fact came from Africa, therefore nullifying any claims made towards them that they could be considered property. In the movie, we are kept in suspense of learning this truth all for the effect of building tension, to have this realization be the pivotal moment where it was clear who should win the case. With such heavy focus on this one element, the film neglected to expand on details of other factors playing a part in the court’s decision, such as the looming threat of civil war, international relations with Spain, and the push from President Van Buren who desired an outcome that would increase his odds of re-election. The film is also guilty in misrepresenting the way the case was handled in the Supreme Court. It is implied through the film that the words of John Quincy Adams alone swayed the judges into voting favorably against slavery, however as we learn in the book the case was really centered on the Atlantic Slave Trade instead of the issue of slavery within America. Spielberg’s inclusion of the fictional character Theodore Joadson also takes away from historical accuracy and diminishes the contributions of the abolitionist Lewis Tappan. Therefore it can be said that the advantage of reading the book over watching the film is that the book is less focused on tension building and more focused on providing details on the legal battle and the ramifications of the decision
This lecture provided an overview of development of slave narratives as a genre unique to the United States. It divided slave narratives as a genre into several distinct time periods that were characterized by different literary characteristics. The three temporal divisions of the genre include 1760-1810, the 1840’s, and the 1850’s and beyond.
The history of slavery in America is one that has reminders of the institution and its oppressive state of African Americans in modern times. The slaveholders and the slaves were intertwined in a cruel system of oppression that did not yield to either side. The white slaveholders along with their black slaves became codependent amongst each other due to societal pressures and the consequences that would follow if slaves were emancipated with race relations at a high level of danger. This codependency between the oppressed and the oppressor has survived throughout time and is prevalent in many racial relationships. The relationship between the oppressed and the oppressor can clearly be seen in Octavia Butler’s novel Kindred. In this novel, the protagonist Dana Franklin, a black woman, time travels between her present day 1977 and the antebellum era of 19th century Maryland. Throughout her journeys back to the past, Dana comes in contact with her white ancestor, Rufus Weylin, a white slave owner and Dana ultimately saves his life and intermingles with the people of the time. Butler’s story of Dana and her relationship with Rufus and other whites as she travels between the past and the present reveals how slaveholders and slaves depended on and influenced one other throughout the slaves bondage. Ultimately, the institution of slavery reveals how the oppressed and the oppressor are co-dependent; they need each other in order to survive.
...y. He touched parts of the slaves' lives and what they really went through, but I don't think we even have a true idea of what it would have been in their shoes. The author presented the information in a very solid way and sectioned out very well. I understood what he was trying to explain easily. It was somewhat a long book but very much full of knowledge and history that in spirit is still alive today. We may not have slavery like it was then, but we still deal with racism and prejudices daily. The world changed because of slavery and is the way it is because of the history of America. We cannot change the past but we can change the future. Thank God the world is not the way it was. I cannot imagine what painful lives the slaves had to endure. But we can become knowledgeable about the history of slavery and America and learn from it in many different ways.
The reader is first introduced to the idea of Douglass’s formation of identity outside the constraints of slavery before he or she even begins reading the narrative. By viewing the title page and reading the words “The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, written by himself” the reader sees the advancement Douglass made from a dependent slave to an independent author (Stone 134). As a slave, he was forbidden a voice with which he might speak out against slavery. Furthermore, the traditional roles of slavery would have had him uneducated—unable to read and incapable of writing. However, by examining the full meaning of the title page, the reader is introduced to Douglass’s refusal to adhere to the slave role of uneducated and voiceless. Thus, even before reading the work, the reader knows that Douglass will show “how a slave was made a man” through “speaking out—the symbolic act of self-definition” (Stone 135).
Slave narratives were one of the first forms of African- American literature. The narratives were written with the intent to inform those who weren’t aware of the hardships of slavery about how badly slaves were being treated. The people who wrote these narratives experienced slavery first hand, and wanted to elicit the help of abolitionists to bring an end to it. Most slave narratives were not widely publicized and often got overlooked as the years went by; however, some were highly regarded and paved the way for many writers of African descent today.
At first glance, the book “my bondage and my freedom by Frederick Douglass appeared to be extremely dull and frustrating to read. After rereading the book for a second time and paying closer attention to the little details I have realized this is one of the most impressive autobiographies I have read recently. This book possesses one of the most touching stories that I have ever read, and what astonishes me the most about the whole subject is that it's a true story of Douglass' life. “ Douglass does a masterful job of using his own experience to expose the injustice of slavery to the world. As the protagonist he is able to keep the reader interested in himself, and tell the true story of his life. As a narrator he is able to link those experiences to the wider experiences of the nation and all society, exposing the corrupting nature of slavery to the entire nation.” Although this book contributes a great amount of information on the subject of slavery and it is an extremely valuable book, its strengths are overpowered by its flaws. The book is loaded with unnecessary details, flowery metaphors and intense introductory information but this is what makes “My Bondage and My Freedom” unique.
...a lot of atrocities at the hands of their owners, who were successful in using ignorance as a tool of slavery, besides treating them as personal property. However, the slaves struggled to gain education on their own, ultimately knowing their rights and questioning some of the heinous acts. Slave owners ensured that slaves worked tirelessly so that they do not get time to idle around and gather in groups that would shake the administration. The narrative, through highlighting the experiences of Douglass himself, painted a true picture of the type of life slaves were undergoing under the surveillance of their slave masters in the United States, a picture that the slaveholders did not want to be brought to the limelight.
The book is significant in the sense that it gives even the current generation the knowledge of slavery, how it happened and the reason for slavery. It also shows us that whites and blacks are equal regardless of the skin colour. The point of equality is supported by the scene where Nat’s plans about freedom do not work but we understand that he had a lot of intelligence to plan that rebellion. This proves to us that blacks have equal intelligence as the whites since everyone being equal. The author tries to take us back to the ages of slavery and make us suffer with the slaves so as to feel how it was really like. The author succeeds in making us feel the pain and he succeeds in making us get that clear picture of what happened.
The book, The World is Flat, by Thomas Friedman draws attention to some very good points concerning globalization and the world economy today. Friedman emphasizes the status of America today in relation to the other countries of the world. As I looked at the things in which he warned about or highlighted, I realized the importance of this issue. He talks about a few aspects in which need to be kept competitive in order for America to retain their current standing in the world market.