Mothering Under Slavery In The Antebellum South Summary

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Stephanie J. Shaw comments on the topic in “Mothering under Slavery in the Antebellum South”: “Even when slave women had abortions, refused to conceive, or committed infanticide in order to protect children from a lifetime of slavery, they often did so in [what was considered] the interest of mothering”(249), which often served as the slave’s mother’s last options. In fact, Morrison presents the issue of infanticide with Sethe’s mother throwing babies overboard and Ella starving her baby. Although their actions save the children from living as slaves, their motivations are tainted by their emotions about the circumstances under which the children are conceived. Sethe completely loves the children she plans to kill. Still, she spends most of…show more content…
She opines that history is divided into three phases namely feminine, feminist and female. The female phase is the phase of self discovery. “Woman turns to the experience of females as a source autonomous art, extending the feminist analysis of culture to the forms and techniques of literature.”(139) Showalter supports feminist criticism in the female phase. In Feminist Criticism in the Wilderness, Showalter asserts that the, “gynocritic model constructs the framework to analyze the female experiences in the literature by woman rather by male authors.” (131) Gynocriticism helps to learn “something solid, enduring and real about the relation of woman to the literary culture.”(49) It concentrates on the newly visible world of the female culture. Toni Morrison’s fictional characters could be analyzed from gynocritic view point because they confront with cultural issues of gender, class as well as race. The world today also challenges the black woman. Slaves were treated like low beings and they received penalty like the disfigurement. The family lacks the presence of the father which is considered to be very important. Therefore the role of the mother becomes dominating. Morrison has constantly presented the families in her novels being run by woman alone. Therefore it is not difficult to find such families with emotional overlaps and other crises. De Lancey in Mother Love is a Killer has remarked that, “the love of a mother becomes emotionally and psychologically toxic in the absence of the father.”(3) Hence, the black community’s survival depends on the motherhood. Children in the world of slavery had to endure a variety of psychological drawbacks. It is emblematically observed in the characters of the novel as the children’s unfulfilled needs are highlighted in the novel. The children were starved of the psychological growth. Sethe grows to be an overprotective
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