Slavery was a harsh and cruel system, and being a woman in that system was an extra burden that black women had to bear. Blacks performed egregious tasks daily, and female slaves were often expected to work on the plantation and proceed to cook, clean, and raise children. Additionally, with the system of slavery came the separation of families, and black women regularly had to raise children by themselves (Brinkley 261).The racist institution of slavery, however, existed largely to dehumanize slaves and normalize the idea that black slaves were property. As a result, female slaves were often vulnerable to unwanted sexual attention and abuse (Brinkley 264). As property, they were powerless to stop their master’s lewd advances, and would be punished brutally for resisting.
Vera Friedman Toni Morrison Spring 2018 / Ms. Augustine Paper #1: Beloved 03/19/18 Beloved: Distorted Love and Broken Motherhood The novel, Beloved, demonstrates Toni Morrison 's ability to penetrate the unconstrained, unapologetic psyches of various characters who bear the awful weight of slavery 's concealed sins. Slavery repudiated black mothers the right to feel maternal love and made them ambivalent toward their family, especially those sired by slave ship crews, masters, and overseers. Slavery culture separated mothers and children not only physically, but emotionally as well. In Morrison’s words, "[These women] were not mothers but breeders." Slavery restricted both Baby Suggs’ and Sethe’s ability to mother their children.
In the beginning of the poem, Hughes uses words such as “dark”, “night”, “labored as a slave”, “beaten and mistreated” and “denied” to express the oppression and racism that his nation was subjugated to. Through the voice of his created persona of a mother, Hughes draws the reader’s attention to African American heritage and history of slavery. The persona speaks of the abuse she endured as a slave. The visual imagery of laboring in the fields for the plantation owners who gave her nothing in return, “Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave’’, stripped her of her dignity and family “Children sold away from me, husband sold, too. No safety, no love, no respect I was due.”, highlights the damage done to their nation and their strength, since they survived the hardships.
One similarity that is apparent is that they can be regarded as symbols of the great mother because both of them lead their roles as a protective and possessive mother. However, Sethe in Beloved can also be seen as symbolic of the African mother who is fundamental in depiction of motherhood in Morrison’s novels. With the power to create and destroy life both Sethe and Eva make the cruel decision to end their children’s lives. Morrison depicts these acts in a brutal manner in order to convey the seriousness of the situation and to convey the frustration that arises as a result of racism and the heritage of slavery. Morrison reveals the side of motherhood most authors would be reluctant to portray.
Sojourner Truth once explained, “I have borne thirteen children, and seen most all sold off to slavery, and when I cried out with my mother's grief, none but Jesus heard me!” As a mother, Sojourner Truth knew what it was to be a slave. She knew about the pain and the suffering. Yet, she couldn’t do much to protect her children. She was defenseless. This act of leaving someone with the burden of guilt can lead victims to feel responsible.
Women in society were and are treated like second class citizens, and for women, it’s time to be aware of this epidemic. There are numerous reasons why I feel so passionate and drawn to this controversy. Women have suffered for centuries trying to be respected in the eyes of society and men, but the people who’s had and still do have rough time is African American women. As a young African American woman, I find myself addicted to the truth and the hidden flaws behind the women’s suffrage movement. I want to further research on the first women suffrage movement to find out why was it ever okay to exclude black women and working class women.
‘Recitatif’ holds all the quality of a great literature. It is well thought provoking piece of work by Morrison that talks about the taboo topic, racism. Morrison tells the tale of two young girls with a broken home and the suffering they had to go through and the troubles they faced. The writers beautifully sewed it together with the issue of race. Whatever the girls faced throughout their lives was somehow connected by their racial background.
The following chapter analyses the description of mothering experience told from the maternal perspective in Toni Morrison’s Beloved (1987) and Lionel Shriver’s We Need to Talk About Kevin (2003). Despite their different socio-cultural and historical frameworks, these two novels are significant in the context of this dissertation because of the way in which they introduce the maternal perspective on mother-child relationship, which has predominantly been overshadowed in literature by the daughters’ totalising viewpoint. The first part of the chapter examines the representation of black motherhood through Sethe’s character, an enslaved woman who decides to kill her children instead of condemning them to a life of slavery. The second part discusses Eva’s perception of the gap between culturally-constructed expectations about mothering and reality from the perspective of a middle-class independent woman. The aim of the chapter will be to examine the two characters’ different conception of motherhood and to identify analogies and differences in their performance of the maternal role.
Harriet Tubman mostly known for her abolitionist work was a very influential woman that saved many slaves’ lives. She was born into slavery with siblings and parents by her side. She died on March 10, 1913, but is still remembered for all of her work. Harriet Tubman had a hard life in slavery, worked in the Civil War, rescued slaves, worked on the underground railroad and can be compared to Nat Turner who also lived in the period of time when there was slavery. First off, Harriet Tubman was a slave that suffered many beatings and punishments for her actions that would cause her to have seizures in her later life.
These slave narratives gave the most powerful accounts that contradicted the flattery statements and claims given by slave owners in concern to slavery. These narratives gave accounts of the abuse done to slaves both physically, sexually and emotionally, the fear and brutality of floggings, the horrid conditions they were kept in, the fear of separation from their families. Twelve Years A Slave, written by Solomon Northup is a