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Treatment of slaves in “Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl” by Jacobs and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Stowe compared to the treatment of the marginalized communities in America today.

Nov 28, 2021 | 0 comments

Nov 28, 2021 | Essays | 0 comments

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The aim of this paper is to compare the treatment the slaves received according to “incidents in the life of a slave girl by Jacobs and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Stowe, and that of the marginalized communities in America currently. It is relevant to talk about the contextual and textual elements of both books along with the critical and analytical evaluation. It is also important to discuss the psychological and physical treatment torture that the minority received so as to compare it to the treatment that the marginalized communities in America are receiving based on their gender and race in relation to American politic
This research paper critically analyses two short novels; “incidents in the life of a slave girl” by Jacob and “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” by Stowe. It analyses the treatment of the slaves in both books and compare it to the marginalized communities in America. Both books portray the suffering and abuse that the slaves had to endure. In “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”, most of the characters except Tom, in the novel are female. The author was showing the struggles and hardships that mothers and wives undergo. The book also portrays the torture that the slaves underwent in the hands of white masters. They lived in horrible and unbearable conditions. The author of “Incidents in the Life of Slave Girl”, Harriet Jacobs, describes and openly shows how destructive the practice is and wishes that more can be done to put an end to it. There are minorities who are still being marginalized in the U.S. today. These communities receive unequal treatment as compared to other communities. As much as it believed that slavery ended centuries ago, there are still practices that are evident and proof that slavery is real even in today’s world.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin
The events of this book took place in the mid-19th century in Kentucky on the Shelby plantation where lived a man named Tom and his family; wife and children. A female slave named Eliza flee to Canada through Ohio after learning that her son is being sold. The masters were so in control of their slaves’ lives such that they would track the slave who runs away to the north and take them back to the south. Slaves considered it safe to seek refuge in Canada because it had abolished slavery (SET, 2008).in contrary to this was Tom’s movement from Kentucky to New Orleans. This journey represents a transition into danger and darkness.
Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl
The town where the author was born and raised is where the events of the first two thirds of the novel take place, Edenton, North Carolina. The place is not much describe but it can be assumed that it is a small street since Linda could see what was happening from her grandmothers shed where she used to hide. In this narrative the white and black communities seem closer and interact more than it would be expected. Unlike in Uncle Tom’s setting, the setting of this book seem nice and no physical abuse or torture towards slave is seen but the similarity comes in when it portrays the slavery life in a different setting (SET, 2008).
The books have several themes that are similar but are used in differently in the two contexts. Theme such as *slavery* is portrayed in both books. Uncle Tom’s Cabin illustrates how slaves were suffering and living in misery. It shows the wider picture on how slavery affects even those who are not directly involved in it. “Incidents in the life of a slave girl” portrays how women suffer in slavery including children. Both books similarly reveal how slavery affects women and their families (SET, 2008). In *race*: “Incidents in the life of a slave girl” contradicts with the perception that white people are more civilized and innately moral as compared to blacks who are perceived primitive and savage. The author, Jacobs, accounts that it is the other way round, white people were more primitive and amoral based on their cruel acts against the African American slaves. There is a lot of similarity on how the theme of race is portrayed in both books. In Stowe novel, it shows how unacceptable slavery based on race is. In this book the author suggests that the minority have an equal contribution to the society that can aid in its development in different ways. It further explains that God loved the black and white equally and so should we treat one another (SET, 2008).
In the theme of *women and femininity* both authors demonstrates how slavery affect family life especially women. The authors sympathize with mothers who were slaves because they were forced to separate from their husbands and children. In incidents in the life of a slave girl, it further illustrates how women are regularly degraded and considered inferior under slavery. On the other hand, Jacob also shows how united women can be and strengthen one another, for example the friendship between Linda and Aunt Martha. When it comes to the theme of religion there is a difference on how it has been used in the novels. In Jacob’s novel, the author shows hoe religion is used in an evil away under slavery. The slave holder used religion to control slaves and put them in check (SET, 2008). They used religion to their advantage and oppressed the slaves. In uncle Tom’s Cabin religion is used to make the minority feel loved and have faith in God no matter the challenges they go through. Stowe believed in religious faith and strongly believed that religion will play a bigger role in the abolition of slavery. However it also condemned how slave owners interpreted the bible to support their practices.
* Symbolism and Imagery*
The north and the South regions are portrayed in the novel to show the difference between the states. In the novels the South states represent slavery and impunity while the North symbolizes freedom and is against slavery. However the novels go further to reveal that the Northern states which are considered pure and free from slavery are actually benefiting from slave trade from the south (SET, 2008).
*Feminist theory in the novels*
Both novels portray the strength of the female characters. In Stowe’s narrative, Eliza’s escape with her son to safety is viewed as a heroic act. The same applies to how Cassy planned to free herself from Simon Legree (Mazzeno, 2010). In Jacob’s novel, her escape from slavery was a great risk that she took to free herself from the bondage of slavery. Aunt Martha in Incidents in the life of a slave girl is also celebrated for her true womanhood by owning a home and supporting herself from the bakery business. She also portrayed her strength and courage by using a loaded gun to chase a Whiteman from her house. The novel shows Linda’s bravery by taking hold of her future when she refused to be treated as an object and be submissive to her master Mr. Bruce (Logan, n.d).
*Slave Treatment *
Slavery is an unpleasant notion; it is crueler when it is only a minority in the community who receive harsh and violent treatment. The conditions that the slaves lived in were unbearable and inhumane. The treatment they received from their masters was harder on women. The torture they endured was not only physical but emotional especially for the young female slaves. The sexual abuse that they suffered stripped them off their dignity and was ashamed of themselves as women.
In incidents in the life of a slave girl, mistreatment is evident in chapter 9 where Mr. Litch tortures his slaves by starving them, physically abusing them and sometimes end their lives (SET, 2010). This exhibit shows how valueless slaves lives were, to their masters, slaves were nothing but properties. In “uncle Tom’s Cabin” chapter 30 it is clearly seen how Simon Legree is yelling and verbally insulting Tom in the Warehouse. They are chained together like animals. This shows how cruel and brutal and brutal the white masters were. In addition to that they were also racist considering the names they use to call the slaves such as ‘nigger’.
*Psychological effects of slavery*
Considering the suffering that the slaves had to endure during the 18th and 19th century in America, emotional abuse was not given much attention. From the physical abuse, sexual assaults to separation from families were reasons enough to cause psychological repercussions that they had to deal with. Harriet Jacob going by the name Linda in her novel underwent different experiences of abuse from her master Dr.Flint. She decided to run away because she could not endure the abuse any more. Abused slaves are on high risk for mental disorder such as depression, anxiety and suicidal attempts (Carten, 2015). Stowe’s novel also shows the suffering of the slaves from brutal whipping and beating to murder. She also touches on the emotional suffering due to the physical abuse they faced, the separation from their families and also the feeling of worthlessness. Physical abuse is temporary and can be stopped and the slaves freed but the psychological repercussions are a permanent damage in their lives.
*Marginalization of the minority in America*
A minority include immigrants, the colored, female, or the disabled people. This group feels neglected and argues that the U.S Government is not doing enough to include them in the development of the country (Cabrera et al, 2014). The treatment that these groups receive is not much different from the treatment of the slaves in the discussed novels. Even though there is a constitution that that is supposed to protect every American Citizen, politics or other factors find a way of making it impossible for the minority to achieve their American Dream.
When it comes to gender equality, women have always been considered inferior in all sectors and always made to work under men. This is evident in the working environment where men are payed more than women for doing the same job (Cabrera et al, 2014). Job opportunities are also less for women as compared to men, this leads to women being the underdeveloped gender. Through the movement of civil rights led by Martin Luther King Jr., people believe that racism was abolished back in the 1960s. Studies have proven that racism is still active in our society today. Black people have history of facing racism from every angle. The policies that were established to curb racism are being ignored and hence irrelevant (Cabrera et al, 2010).
The community that was hit by hurricane in September 2005 in New Orleans was African Americans (Piven, 2005). This story unveiled the overwhelming population of the black community who are poor due to low wage jobs and high level of illiteracy. The community is neglected and forgotten. They have not been receiving support income from the U.S government for several decades. The American politics of marginalization changed due to the civil rights movement which softened marginalization. This was just a partial success more needs to be done to reinforce the present laws and policies.
Cabrera, C., Fix, V., Javier, K., & Prado, N. (2014). How Minority are Still Marginalized in the United States. Retrieved from www.jjay.cuny.edu/sites/default/files/contentgroups/sasp/poster_gallery/poster45.pdf
Carten, A. (2015). How the legacy of slavery affects the mental health of black Americans today. Retrieved from theconversation.com/how-the-legacy-of-slavery-affects-the-mental-health-of-black-americans-today-44642
Logan, B. slavery. Retrieved from www.reed.edu/english/Courses/English341nn/Studpages/Brooke/
Piven, F. (2005). Marginalization and American Politics. Retrieved from journals.openedition.org/lisa/814
Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Chapter 9 Summary. Retrieved July 6, 2018, from www.shmoop.com/incidents-life-slave-girl/chapter-9-summary.html
Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008, November 11). Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory. Retrieved July 6, 2018, from www.shmoop.com/incidents-life-slave-girl/symbolism-imagery.html
“Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Critical Evaluation” Critical Survey of Literature for Students Ed. Laurence W. Mazzeno. eNotes.com, Inc. 2010 eNotes.com 6 Jul, 2018 www.enotes.com/topics/uncle-toms-cabin/critical-essays/critical-evaluation >