Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Born To Be A Chattel

Journal No. 9

English 48A
Dr. Scott Lankford
Author I Chose: Harriet Jacobs
I. "The slave child had no thought for the morrow; but there came that blight, which too surely waits on every human being born to be a chattel."

II. Harriet Jacobs speaks from her personal memories about what limitations a slave grows up with.

III. Jacobs provides her readers with an intimate look into the lives of slave children. Growing up without a mother or father, many of these children are unable to connect with their families. If a child does get to stay with a family-member, it is likely that they will eventually be separated and sold off to another slave owner. Family is where children are able to get the most support and encouragement. When children do not have families (even non-biological families) to encourage them to thrive, they may not have the spirit or the will to do it on their own. In addition, slave children see their loved ones (friends and family) sold off or beaten for the slightest actions. When these children are forced to witness these cruelties they slowly become less optimistic and less motivated to live life. Not to be too cliche, but their spirits have been broken, in a sense. You have no ability to get the education that you see your white peers receiving, you'll always have the same raggedy shirt (and often no pants, as Jacobs points out), you'll never be allowed to keep your own children for long, and you may never be able to leave on your own free will. On top of that, if you were able to leave the plantation, you would never be able to apply for the better-paying job, no matter how much more qualified than your white counter-parts you might be. The world of this time was so cruel and abusive towards slaves that children were not spared the "ideals" that the masters had set forth. The world that they lived in usually began at birth and you never questioned what your lot in life was. I suppose in some ways, having no hope as a child was easier to live with than having hope that was cruelly crushed over and over again.


drscottie said...

20/20 Nothing hurts more than hope crushed and extinguished.