Essay about History Is Subjective And A Stable Sense Of Self Identity

Essay about History Is Subjective And A Stable Sense Of Self Identity

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Characters rely on othering discourse to maintain power and a stable sense of self identity. History is subjective despite the treatment to slaves. When most humans think of slavery the first thing that pops into their head are white slave owners and African American slaves. Meanwhile in The Known World we are introduced to the unknown of America’s history. African Americans owning African American slaves, slave owners cheating on their husband with their slave, and the power in slave-master relationships. Caldonia and Moses and Augustus and Henry both represent othering discourse in different ways, and use language differently to differentiate themselves from one another.
Chapter four is when the ironic title The Known World comes to life. Edward Jones explored the relationship between a father, Augustus, who snuck slaves out of the state, and a son, Henry, a former slave who became a slave owner. This scene leaves majority of the audience shocked, due to the unwritten aspects from American history of black slave owners in the past. Henry broke news to his parents, Augustus and Mildred, “No, Papa. I got my own man. I bought my own man. Bought him cheap from Master Robbins. Moses” (Jones 136). Based on the novel, one might infer Augustus and Mildred being most disappointed in their son’s decision to stoop to societies othering level. America associating slavery with white slave owners is only a representation of history. New Historicism can be defined as “the history of lies cultures tell themselves about themselves” (Tyson 288). Americans avoid admitting to the mistreated slaves, different ethnicities of slavery, and relationships that are unfamiliar to our knowledge base of history. New historicism might mean history in a trad...


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...er; the audience is never told if Moses wanted Caldonia on his lap or how he felt about his master leaning in for a kiss. Therefore, supporting the superior “self” and inferior “other” in the slave-master relationship.
In summation, Augustus and Henry represent the slave-master relationship most Americans are aware of. The master whom feels powerful and the mistreated slave whom feels powerless. Caldonia and Moses represent the relationship of the master caring for the slave. The slave continues to be agonized, but he is also given food, care and concern from the slave owner. In both relationships, the master is always on top, the master did not ask about the slave nor asked if this is what the slave wanted. There are different ways of interpreting history, as well as contrasting ways to interpret these relationships and how Edward Jones portrayed these characters.

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