Novel, slavery, united states, 19th century, social ladder
This text is an extract from the novel Queen written by Alex Haley in 1993. The excerpt is called "Their first slave".
The story takes place in the USA, and more precisely in Nasheville, in the 19th century, that is to say when slavery was still legal. Two young Irish immigrants, Washington and James, are buying and meeting a new slave, Ephraim, a nine year-old black boy. They buy him from Massa Jackson, a friend of theirs, who has himself a slave, called Alfred.
We may wonder how the author denounces slavery beneath the text.
In a first part, I will try to show that James and Washington seem to be two reasonable masters, and that the reader put himself in there shoe, and then, I will attempt to show that the text highlights a critical situation: the slaves'.
[...] l.30-31 “And he missed his mammy.” Ephraim's been separated from is mother. He didn't have the choice. -An example of a typical slave: Alfred resigned slave He has accepted his fate. He is an experienced slave: he was born as a slave and his grandparents too. He can't imagine another situation for him. He must have learnt to submit and to fear being punished. dutiful slave in consequence l.10 “Chile been fed”. =he wants to make it clear that he respected his part of the deal. [...]
[...] By this testimony of what was slavery in America his goal is therefore to make us understand that this practice is unacceptable. In my opinion, this extract is very convincing because we put ourselves in Washington and James's shoes because their reactions are the one we'd have. We identify to the slave owners, ans in the end, we are lead to realize that we could have been one of those white men. We become aware that slavery is a big deal and should not exist. Nowadays, it doesn't anymore. But what about racism? [...]
[...] He becomes aware he is just a nine year-old boy. He put himself in his shoes. -The reader feels like those masters *Beneath their feelings= also sympathizing with Ephraim *Their omniscient point of view But a critical situation: the slaves' one -Slavery: a dehumanizing traffic. *Definition: The state of one bound in servitude as the property of a slaveholder or household. Considering as an object that can be purchase in consequence: l.20: “It was official. He owned a slave.” The slave doesn't have a word to say, he is bought, his destiny his in his master's hands. [...]
[...] However, it is paradoxical to treat someone you buy on an equal footing. He doesn't seem to be logical, or even ethical. l.24 “Where is your mother?” He's aware that a child might miss is mummy, be homesick, even if this child is a slave. He sympathizes with Ephraim. remorseful master *First of all businesslike l.20 “James signed where he indicated” =mostly silent, facing his first slave deal, confused. Becoming a man of wealth, he can afford a slave. l.42 “He was becoming a man of property and substance” He becomes a respectful man in this society of the 19th century in America, were purchasing a slave means climbing the social ladder. [...]
[...] Their first slave This text is an extract from the novel Queen written by Alex Haley in 1993. The excerpt is called “Their first slave”. The story takes place in the USA, and more precisely in Nasheville, in the 19th century, that is to say when slavery was still legal. Two young Irish immigrants, Washington and James, are buying and meeting a new slave, Ephraim, a nine year-old black boy. They buy him from Massa Jackson, a friend of theirs, who has himself a slave, called Alfred. [...]
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