Saturday, March 23, 2013

Slavery & Identity

The brutality of slavery has always been evident through the descriptions that we have been given  over the past years. However, between the video and Beloved, the struggle that slaves faced really hit home. Slavery for the men as Sweet Home was better off than most slaves had it as Paul D described how lenient Mr. Garner was with them. It's impossible to imagine that the animal parallel drawn between the slaves and the men of sweet home was mild compared to the rest. Paul D makes the reader realize that they identity/dignity had been stripped to the extent that on paper they had no true value. This concept is seen earlier as Baby Suggs is indifferent to the fact that her son had bought her freedom. After years of having her identity eroded, Baby Suggs believed she had nothing left to live for.


Tyler Dean said...

I agree. At first they had it better than almost every other slave in America. They were treated as adults, humans, and independent people. They were even given guns because the Garners didn't have to worry about violence from them. After Mr. Garner dies and Mrs. Garner becomes frail, however, the situation changes. The schoolteacher symbolizes every other slave owner in america. He is ruthless, dehumanizing, and cruel. The contrast between the two sets of owners really hits home as to how brutal slave life really was. The difference between doing what you want and being treated like an animal is huge, and that us exactly the gap between slaves and whites at that time.

Cassidy George said...

I can imagine that Paul D's struggle with his "manhood" was certainly not unique to his character. It seems to me that it would be difficult for any male slave to consider himself a man when he has no ability to control himself or the environment around him. Also we use "Man", on occasion, to mean "Human". I think Paul D's insecurity is not just with his masculinity, but with his own humanity. How can Paul D, or any other male slave, consider himself a man when he lives in a society that considers him more of an animal than a human?

wkuehne said...

I agree. The Sweet Home men are really different than most other slaves in that they are treated like men, and responsible people. They are given guns, and are allowed to learn. It is interesting that Toni Morrison chooses to portray whites as considerate. After watching Amistad for the fourth time, I continue to analyze myself and ask, "Would I have ever been one of these people?". It's easy for me, or anyone to say no, but I believe that most of us, if not all of us, wouldn't have been involved in the complete inhumanity that was depicted by Spielberg, but I could see myself being someone like Mr. Garner. Mr Garner, although he is very progressive compared to others, still impedes slaves freedom by having them bought off, which creates a very interesting dynamic in "Beloved".