Unformatted text preview: 103A: Narrative of the Life of 103A: Frederick Douglass, an American Slave I. Slave Bodies as Texts, I. Slave Bodies as Texts, Spectacles Before he commenced whipping Aunt Hester, he Before he commenced whipping Aunt Hester, he took her into the kitchen, and stripped her from neck to waist, leaving her neck, shoulders, and back, entirely naked. He then told her to cross her hands, calling her at the same time a d—d bh. After crossing her hands, he tied them with a strong rope, and led her to a stool under a large hook in the joist, put in for the purpose. She now stood fair for his infernal purpose. He made her get upon the stool, and tied her hands to the length, so that she stood upon the ends of her toes. He then said to her, “Now, you d—d bh, I’ll learn you how to disobey my orders!” (24) Slave Body as Text Slave Body as Text The slave body bears witness to violence, tells a story of violence Slaves objectified (as bodies deprived of personhood) in broadsides, at slave auctions, and in other everyday forums Dangers/benefits for exslave authors of using scenes of physical subjection to convey the horrors of slavery II. The Myth of a Gentler Economy II. The Myth of a Gentler Economy “mulatto”: from Spanish, “mulo,” mule; biracial person believed to be infertile; slur polygenesis: racist theory positing that different races came into being as the result of separate acts of creation III. Making Men “Brutes,” and Brutes Men III. Making Men “Brutes,” and Brutes Men “We were worked in all weathers. It was never too hot or too cold; it could never rain, blow, hail, or snow, too hard for us to work in the field. Work, work, work, was scarcely more the order of the day than of the night. The longest days were too short for [Covey], and the shortest nights too long for him. I was somewhat unmanageable when I first went there, but a few months of this discipline tamed me. Mr. Covey succeeded in breaking me. I was broken in body, soul, and spirit. My natural elasticity was crushed, my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed, the cheerful spark that lingered about my eye died; the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!” (74) “You have seen how a man was made a slave; you shall see how a slave was made a man.” (76) Chiasmus: from Greek “X.” A figure of speech in which a sequence of two phrases or clauses, which are parallel in syntax, reverse the order of their corresponding words. “This battle with Covey was the turning point in my career as a slave. It rekindled the few expiring embers of freedom, and revived within me a sense of my own manhood. It recalled the departed selfconfidence, and inspired in me again with a determination to be free. The gratification afforded by the triumph was a full compensation for whatever else might follow, even death itself. He only can understand the deep satisfaction which I experienced, who has himself repelled by force the bloody arm of slavery. I felt as I never felt before…I now resolved that, however long I might remain a slave in form, the day had passed forever when I could be a slave in fact.” (82) Diaspora: the dispersion of an originally homogeneous people ...
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- Fall '09
- American Literature, sexual slavery, I. Slave Bodies, Slave Body