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Theme Of Dehumanization In Dessa Rose

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The Role of Dehumanization in Dessa Rose

The ability to see others as less than human characterizes dehumanization. The use of dehumanization to obstruct the power of a group of people that are deemed as inferior manifests in society through slavery. In Dessa Rose, Sherley Williams demonstrates how dehumanization was used to keep black people in their place and reflects on the racial obstructions that left slaves powerless in the nineteenth century. Through this theme, she proposes that the significance of an individual’s name, lack of education, and the use of sex characterizes the powerlessness that results from dehumanization.
William explicates that the refusal to call a black person by their name gives power to the people who oppress them. The loss of their name indicates that black people are …show more content…

Slave holders intentionally withheld the opportunity for slaves to be educated, because the more unaware of the world they are, the easier it is to control them. Without an education, slaves are forced to rely on their masters for their own wellbeing. This causes them to be stuck in a never-ending cycle of control, where they have the least power. Williams demonstrates the importance of education through Dessa. In the novel, Dessa states that she “didn’t know where this cold weather came from, the north. That [she’d] never seed no real meaning in birds going south till Harker pointed it out to me” (207). She consequently says, “this is what I hold against slavery. May a time come when I forgive, cause I don’t think I’m set up to forget--the beatings, the selling, the killings, but I don’t think I ever forgive the ignorance they kept us in” (208). Knowledge is a basic human right and keeping black people uneducated suggests that white people consider slaves to be less than human. The lack of knowledge about the world further ensured that black people will never try to overpower their

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