Essay on The Known World by Edward P. Jones

Essay on The Known World by Edward P. Jones

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In the novel The Known World by Edward P. Jones we are immersed into an era of slavery. Because of this we are introduced to many slaves and many slave owners each one having a story that is a significant part of the novel as a whole, but I feel that it mainly focuses on Henry Townsend’s overseer Moses. This is said for three reasons, the novel begins and ends with him, he is continuously mentioned throughout the novel even when the reader assumes they are reading about another character, and finally his story is well connected with the title.
When being introduced to a new book, the first character that you meet is usually the protagonist, the main character of a book. Authors do this so that the reader is more emotionally attached to that character because they will be following that character throughout their story. The Known World begins with the layout of what Moses is doing the evening his master died, because he is the first character mentioned, it leaves the reader automatically thinking that he will be the main character. In my reasoning I said that the novel begins and ends with him. The beginning is obvious, but the ending not so much because the last story is about Minerva. I say that it ends with Moses though because every story begins to wrap up when he leaves the plantation. The majority of the end is about people searching for his whereabouts.
The interesting thing about this novel is how the narrator interacts with the story itself. Although the story does not change points of view between characters it does seem to focus on a certain character one at a time. This is difficult to grasp because the narrator stays in third person the entire time, sometimes it appears as though the narrator is a character looking...


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...ain character because he ties everything together being the beginning and the end of the story and connecting the other stories together as well as having his story be more laid out than the other characters. Not only for those reasons though, the reader is able to see Moses change. In the beginning of his story he is almost pitiful and begs for him not to be separated from the other slave in the end of his story he had been an abusive husband and hardened by the world he knew. The reader can see that the man that once held the plantation together knew exactly how to break it apart and I think that is what the book is really about; Moses’ road to doing just that because he was never able to fully understand what made him property that someone else could buy or sell.



Works Cited

Jones, Edward P. The Known World. New York: HarperCollins Publisher Inc, 2003. Print.

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Essay on The Known World by Edward P. Jones

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