African American Literary Tradition

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Ewa Białoszewska American Literature 19.01.2017 How African American writers inscribed themselves in American literary tradition? Everything what have been done in the past and what is now actively interacting on the current literature is called a literary tradition. It consist all of collection of works, cultural content, customs, views, beliefs or behaviors passed from generations to generations. Literary tradition is one of the main ways of enabling the past to have an active effect on the current society’s awareness. Therefore, a writer to inscribe himself on the cards of literary tradition must touch upon a subject that in the current times has social or historical meaning and will affect the minds of not only the readers but…show more content…
After escaping slavery and seeking freedom in the North, former slaves would often write their testimonies of the cruel life on the southern plantations. One of the best and most recognizable examples of this genre is “Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave” whose author, Frederick Douglas, became an important figure not only in literature but also in history of fighting for civil rights. He was born into slavery and raised by the grandparents because his mother was assigned to work in a field far away and was not allowed to stay with her son. Life at the plantation was full of abuse and cruelty, which he could witness from a young age by seeing his aunt being whipped. He described slaves’ fear of their masters that often took pleasure in punishing and whipping their property; the hardships of fieldwork where blacks would work all day with only few breaks for meals or how the owners were impregnating black women in order for them to produce more, free laborers. Douglas wrote and published his autobiography when slavery was legal in many states. He believed that once white people will hear about the reality of black’s lives on the plantations and it would come out of slaves’ mouth, they would understand that slavery must be abolished immediately. The book became a huge success, within four months of the publication, five…show more content…
Through the literary works they made people aware of the injustice and inhumanity that slavery was based on and because if its written form they had impact on many generations coming years and decades later. Phillis Wheatley through poems appeals to the intellectual side of the people while Frederick Douglas using slave narrative in his autobiography introduces readers to cruelty and blooded side of black’s oppression. Even though they used different literary convention, they both became an inspiration for long-term changes that transformed the United Stated and it is still visible in current times. By affecting minds and souls of society, they inscribed themselves in American literary tradition
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