What is freedom?

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In reality, what is freedom? When can I person actually declare freedom? These questions are brought to mind after engaging in the novel, The Known World. Many characters in the novel are said to be “free” , but they do not seem to be in reality free. Yes, they may be free from some binds, such as slavery, but in most cases, those who claim to be “free” are the ones who are indeed, the most suppressed.

Take John Skiffington for example. He is a “free,” white, landowner; he is the sheriff of the town and has great power. John lives for the Lord and is wrapped in the Bible. Superficially, everyone sees Skiffington as a very free man, with no binding restraints. So what is John Skiffington’s burden? Looking deeper into Skiffington’s character one will find that he has a mental battle raging at all times. He wants to do everything in his power to obey and protect the law. After all, that is his job, for John, the law is a belief so strong that he has devoted his entire life to protecting it. That is exactly what John’s problem is, he is torn between two very important, very strong beliefs that he has put his strength into for years. Skiffington’s battle is, what about when the law protects something that he knows is wrong in God’s eyes? The two most important things in John Skiffington’s life, serving the Lord and protecting the law, begin to collide! Is this really freedom? Skiffington is physically free, but mentally he is quiet the opposite. When Mildred Townsend says “ I have a feelin in don’t matter anymore, sheriff, your deputy didn’t seem to care.“ John begins to realize that he will not be able protect the innocent and protect the law. Edward P. Jones introduces this by writing “he blinked because he knew that...

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...ecision. Despite the fact that she is a slave herself, she does not allow herself to be involved with any of the rules or cruelty of slavery. She does not get drawn into the distorted beliefs. Alice, therefore, is one of the most free characters in the novel. Her mind is free, her soul is free and her Physical body is more free than other characters. She is not tied down by any forbidden love, any guilt, any power hungry dreams. Nor is she burdened by any of the other shackles that the others allowed to control their lives. Alice is allowed to wander in the night, she is allowed to think and feel as she pleases. All because she made a choice. The answer to the question is, Alice. Alice defines freedom. She beautiful irony that Edward P. Jones allows the reader to find. No soul associated with such a corrupt society could truly be free. Freedom is such a strong word!
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