Arelis's Reviews > The Classic Slave Narratives

The Classic Slave Narratives by Henry Louis Gates Jr.
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's review
Dec 20, 10

Read in December, 2010

Mary Prince:
This account tells the story of a West Indian slave who endured years of cruelty and abuse at the hands of several families who successively owned her in Bermuda and the West Indies. Mary Prince traveled to London in 1828, in the service of the Woods family. There she was granted her freedom because of an English law. But England's anti-slavery ruling did not extend to Antigua, and in order to remain free, Prince had to abandon her husband who she left behind.This story is very moving and detailed. This record of the experiences of the author became a powerful instrument for campaign against the slave trade. This account helped people see the views of women in slavery in their eyes and not through some man. This was groudbreaking for this genre of slave narratives.
They discussed many themes such as othering, hubris, and power. The masters would dehumanize their slaves and act as if they were their superior. There was also a lot of hypocritism because they would say that they were trying to civilize them by teaching christianity yet most slaveowners denied them the right to learn anything at all.
I recommend this book because it is actually quite interesting and time flies by as you read it. I give this book 4 stars because it is not the best book in the world but it is entertaining.

Fredrick Douglass:
Born as a slave in Maryland in 1817, Frederick Douglass went on to become the most influential and distinguished African American of the nineteenth century. As an abolitionist, newspaper publisher, orator and statesman, Douglass dedicated his life to the triumph of freedom over oppression for all black Americans. He had to learn to cope with the hardships of slavery. The irony found within the institution of slavery was that white Christian Americans justified owning slaves as if it were an animal, but yet they prayed at night for their soul's salvation into the kingdom of Christ's God. This all took place in a country founded on freedom, liberty which was fought for by the Whites.

There were now slaves singing joyful tunes in times of hardships and despair. The life of a slave is unimaginabley horrible. When Douglass gained the ability to read and think, slavery transformed him as he became at times broken in body, soul, and spirit. This description of himself is how I came to view a slave from the slaves perspective as best as I could. The slaves that could think were tortured by thought. The slaves that couldn't think were tortured by ignorance. Nonetheless, slavery was torture driven by fear and contol.

I give this book 4 stars because just like Mary Prince's narrative his story was very informative at the same time chilling and gruesome. It was hard to read how much they suffered but at the same time you wanted to know how they ended up.

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