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Narrative of William W. Brown, an American Slave. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl. The title page of a slave narrative bears significant clues as to the authorship of the narrative itself.
Narratives that identify the subject and author of the text as one and the same represent, in the eyes of many scholars, the most authoritative texts in the tradition. Ask students why it would be important for white readers of the mid-nineteenth century to see the Written by Himself or Herself subtitle in these narratives?
Students should understand that identifying a slave narrator as literate and capable of independent literary expression was a powerful way to combat a key proslavery myth, which held that slaves were unself-conscious and incapable of mastering the arts of literacy.
Students should remember that in mid-nineteenth-century America, where many whites had had little or no schooling, literacy was a marker of social prestige and economic power. What is the significance of the prefaces and introductions found in many slave narratives?
Typically, the antebellum slave narrative carries a black message inside a white envelope. Prefatory and sometimes appended matter by whites attest to the reliability and good character of the black narrator while calling attention to what the narrative would reveal about the moral abominations of slavery.
In both cases, the prefaces seek to authenticate the veracity of the narratives that follow them. A good question to ask students is, why did these narratives need such prefaces? What is the plot of most pre-Civil War slave narratives?
Usually, the antebellum slave narrator portrays slavery as a condition of extreme physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual deprivation, a kind of hell on earth. Since most antebellum narratives Slave narratives adapt the rite-of-passage story to propagandistic purposes.
Students will learn a great deal from some narratives—such as those of Grimes, Bibb, and Northup—about the day-to-day grind of back-breaking agricultural labor that we often associate with slavery.
Such narratives are not always as self-reflective as readers today might like. Students should understand that fugitive slaves could not assume that whites were interested in what they thought or how they felt about matters other than slavery.
Douglass, for instance, spent a crucial part of his boyhood in a port city where he had access to information and had the opportunity to learn to read. In his young manhood he had the opportunity to learn a trade and hire his time in Baltimore.
Wells Brown, another skilled slave, had the advantage of working primarily as a house servant, not a field hand. Students could ask themselves why slaves with these comparative advantages were the ones who not only risked everything to escape but then wrote so passionately and eloquently about the injustices of their enslavement.
What is the turning-point in a slave narrative? Is it when the slave resolves to escape or when he or she arrives in the North? How does the slave arrive at the decision to escape? Does the narrator portray a process of growing awareness, dissatisfaction, and resistance that culminates in the escape effort?
Most slave narratives portray a process by which the narrator realizes the injustices and dangers facing him or her, tries to resist them—sometimes physically, sometimes through deceit or verbal opposition—but eventually resolves to risk everything for the sake of freedom.
Douglass, on the other hand, refused to disclose the means by which he made his escape, thereby directly contradicting the expectations of the form he himself had adopted. Why would Douglass make such a decision, knowing his readership wanted to read these kinds of escape accounts in his post-Civil War Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, he explained how he made his way to freedom?
How do most slave narratives end? How do they portray life in the North? In some well-known antebellum narratives, the attainment of freedom is signaled not simply by reaching the so-called free states but by renaming oneself Douglass and William Wells Brown make a point of explaining whyfinding employment, marrying, and, in some cases, dedicating significant energy to antislavery activism.
Few slave narratives condemn the widespread racial discrimination and injustice that African Americans endured in the North. The Life of William Grimes is a remarkable exception. Those slaves who have kind masters, are perhaps as happy as the generality of mankind.These essays are not intended to replace library research.
They are here to show you what others think about a given subject, and to perhaps spark an interest or an idea in you. To take one of these essays, copy it, and to pass Chaucer's Adherence to the "Three Estates" in the General Prologue.
Writing a narrative essay is an essential talent for field research. Rather than summing things up for your reader, it presents your experience and allows them to .
Free Narrative Essays - Advertising and Personal Values - Advertising and Personal Values I just discovered that I don't know anything about today's society. A renowned modern library of fiction, poetry, essays, and visual art by celebrated and emerging artists, provided free to readers.
Expert Reviewed. How to Write an Essay. Six Parts: Writing Your Essay Revising Your Essay Writing a Persuasive Essay Writing an Expository Essay Write a Narrative Essay Essay Help Community Q&A Throughout your academic career, you will often be asked to write essays.
You may have to work on an assigned essay for class, enter an essay contest or write essays . Writing a narrative essay is an essential talent for field research. Rather than summing things up for your reader, it presents your experience and allows them to draw their own conclusions.