The President's Daughter: Narrative Of A Slave Life

573 Words3 Pages
As historical documents, the slave narrative serves as a lens to the evolution of white supremacy in the South in the eighteenth century through the twentieth century Jim Crow South to the disfranchisement of Blacks today. These narratives give voice to the generations of Blacks who may not have had their stories told because any evidence of what occurred was destroyed or was told from the oppressor’s perspective. In William Wells Brown’s Clotel; or, The President’s Daughter: Narrative of a Slave Life (1853), the author shows the dilemma of the African American through the mulatto character. Brown’s narrative acts like an instrument to project the propaganda of the abolitionist by disclosing the brutal institution of slavery. The narrative develops around explicitly, powerful scenes that show the many experiences of the mulatto in the antebellum era through the social constraints that bind her. By examining the lives of the Mulatto characters, Clotel in particular, the impact of slavery on each…show more content…
The term for these individuals- “mulatto”- was borrowed from the Spanish (and is derived from the Lain mulus meaning mule) and used by the English from 1600 onward. The inclusion of the term and the way it is used are important because the laws dealing with Negro slaves “add” ‘and mulattoes,’ presumably to make clear that mixed blood did not confer exemption from slavery (9).” To understand slavery, we must also understand the social construction of race as a form of identity to white and black Americans throughout nineteenth century America. Brown’s use of the mulatto serves as an abolitionist technique that proves that race is not biologically created, but instead, a label based on skin color used to classify a specific group of individuals within the white hegemony and contradicts the ideology of “unalienable rights” in a nation that practiced chattel
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