Slave Narrative Essay
The chattel of slave trade had been practiced in Africa even before the introduction of the European slave trade. This accursed trade would later descend on the continent to root and erase its rich heritage by drawing a new curtain on human relations: either you were a slave or a master. The infamous trade which subjected helpless humans into forced service and hard labor displayed the most tragic of all villainy, barbarism, inhuman and unforetold suffering and torture to the ‘uncivilized’ Africans and West Indians. In a nutshell, slavery transformed the human moral ethics and intrinsic entity by making others mere means to attain selfish desires rather than respecting them as ends themselves. As Mary Prince stressed, ‘the contagion of slaveryseems to alter the very nature of a man.’ Among the animosities committed include this famous quote, ‘I have seen a negro beaten till some of his bones were broken for even letting a pot boil over.’
In Equiano’s narration, he stressed on how inhumanly and cruel the slaves were treated. Always mistreated and placed a little lower than earthworms on the hierarchy of the Universe. He sees slavery as an act that transforms masters into gods because he believed that the portraits eyes followed him wherever he went, and that he made a little blander, the clock would report him. Though he stresses, while he worked in a plantation, that slavery brutalizes everyone in the society, whether a slave of a freeman, on the other hand, Mary Prince defined slavery as a curse to the oppressor, rarely less than to the oppressed and its natural agenda, to brutalize both.
Walker condemned slavery as a waked practice and called upon all African to resist their masters because it had turned them into the most degraded, wretched, and abject set of beings that ever lived. An appeal by Walker further shed light on the fact that slavery had corrupted the minds of the white so that Africans were classified in the same family as Monkeys. He rebuked slavery saying that slavery had turned Whites into ‘unjust, jealous, unmerciful, avaricious and blood-thirsty set of beings, always seeking after power and authority.’ Douglassaims to resolve slavery by taking into consideration the power of freedom, social justice and equality. In his time, the slavery controversy became a legal, social and a political issue.
Among the slaves’ sufferings, Equiano described the torture he himself went through till he was unable to eat. “I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that with the loathsomeness of the stench and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything….I now wished for the last friend, Death, to relieve me.” To him, slavery promised no hope in life and it was better to be dead. The same horror ran through marry Prince’s life, who on the first day as a slave was so freighted as Hetty was punished. She gives an ordeal that rarely did a day pass, before the fellow slave boys and herself were punished even when they had not messed. She concludes that slavery to the master and mistress gave them a right to ill-use them at their pleasure.
Slavery ruined families and infringed uncertain pain and sorrow through separation of family members. Equiano gives a tell on her separation from his family and sister, “…for my sister and I were then separated while we lay clasped in each other’s arms. It was in vain that we besought them not to part us…” The evils of slavery as he notes left him in a state of distraction not to be described. “I cried and grieved continually, and for several days I did not eat anything but what they forced into my mouth.” Mary Prince further exemplifies the atrocities of slavery on the family. She adds: “…when I kissed my mother and brothers and sisters, I thought my young heart would break….But there was no help….It was a sad parting; one went one way, one another, and our poor mammy went home with nothing.”
Though the American’s slogan for independence was life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, Walker emphasizes the irony of the slogan since what happened to colored men was the opposite. In Fredrick’s life, the constitution became a matter of concern because both the opponents and proponents of slavery looked to the American constitution, as well as the prevailing culture of the time, for direction in dealing with this matter. Though it could take a longer time, traditional believes on slavery in America were overlooked, and slave trade was abolished
Most of Equiano’s traditional cultural settings included tillage not supplemented by any form of force such as use of animals; but by their own hands. This portrays that they never knew of any form of slavery, but always relied on peaceful coexistence. The only war known, was with the locusts which came to destroy their crops, and even this, they had been incited by the slave traders, who brought the European gods. When he is enslaved in a plantation he isshocked by this culture that he tried washing his face in an attempt to change its color.
One can also conclude from the authors that slavery and violence always went hand in hand because most of the master’s reaction to their slaves was force and humiliation so as to get them to do what they wanted done. Besides the violence was to proof to the slaves how helpless they were.Violence and Equiano’s refusal to eat, portrays the element of slave torture. “…one of them held me fast by the hands and laid me across …and tied my feet while the other flogged me severely. I had never experienced anything of this kind before.” When Mary reported that a pot had broken, she receives violent beatings, insults too weird to be written in English as she narrates, and her master could give her violent beatings till he was exhausted. “He beat me till I was unable to stand, and till he himself was weary.” The violence in her slavery detested the meaning of life to her. “…I lay there till the morning, careless of what might happen, for life was very weak in me, and I wished more than ever to die. Fredrick heavily condemned violence against those who never had the legal power to protect themselves even to the years of the American Civil War.
The manner of auctioning slaves the same way one would sell fruits in a market, as expressed by these authors, gives a clearer picture on the humiliation, ruthless and uncaught injustices of slavery. Mary exemplifies her auction the same manner a butcher would a cow in a market “…as if I could no more understand their meaning than the dumb beasts….The bidding commenced at a few pounds, and gradually rose to fifty-seven.” Equiano further stresses that in slave business, the purchased commodity, slave, would never receive a warm treat as a purchased product would by the buyer, but they were subjected to ‘…loathsome smells, which made many fall ill, of which many died, thus falling victims to the improvident avarice, of their purchasers.’
Moreover, owning a property as a slave was never recognized as at the dawn of slavery, he says, ‘…nothing is more common than for the white people on this occasion to take the grass from the slaves without paying for it.’ In a sale market Equiano narrates that slavery envied them the freedom they enjoyed, and as often wished he could change his condition for theirs. Every circumstance he encountered served to render his state more painful, and heighten his apprehensions and his opinion of the cruelty of the whites.
Through his travels, Equiano converted into Christianity. His soul and Christ were now as one. From the Christianity point of his argument he stated that the common cry of sins committed in slavery, was enough to bring God’s judgment on the Islands. Since the clerks and many others at the same time had committed acts of violence on the poor, wretched, helpless females, whom he saw for hours stand crying. Mary clarifies on her religious believe on slavery that God’s hand was over her, and she was preserved for better things. David Walker believes in his faith that all men have one master. He heavily criticizes the American preachers who had intended to corrupt African’s minds to embrace slavery by being subjective to their masters. Fredrick figures out that whether you be a master or the oppressed, both of you fall in Gods’ hands.
On what was to become the long walk to freedom, July 4th was just the birthday of the Negro’s National Independence and political freedom, following the abolition of slave trade in America. Douglass gave a speech at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.” To the Negro July 4th reveals to him, the gross injustice and cruelty of slavery to which he was the victim.
As Douglass’ speech continues, “…is a sham; a boasted liberty, an unholy license; national greatness, swelling vanity; sound of rejoicing which were empty and heartless; his denunciation of tyrants brass fronted impudence; a shout of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; his prayers and hymns, his sermons and thanks-givings, with all religious parade and solemnity, are to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy, a thin veil to cover up crimes which would disgrace a nation of savages.”
To the Negro, the July 4th brings to the end of horrors of centuries of slavery, inhuman injustices, and barbarism. All of his credit is eluded to the detestable and horrid facts of black enslavement. “There is hope in the thought,” Douglas said, after he explicated how America is a new and young nation, despite it being around the “old age for a man”. Douglass’ goals were to change people’s thinking and push for an understanding that all men are equal. However, despite all these inhuman practice of slavery, people had once more a hope to be free, a hope to be asked for their consent and a freedom to democracy and from forced labour.