Published 19 Aug 2017
To be honest, it’s quite a complicated task for the person, who’s always lived as a free human being to imagine a situation, where she is deprived of all of her constitutional rights. In my apprehension slavery is when the person does not have the rights for her life, she doesn’t have a right to breathe, eat and walk. Some may object that every human born has these rights, but, as I see it, knowing that you can be murdered at any moment (and the master of the slave could deprive him/her of his/her life at any moment) is equal to living without these rights.
When I put myself in the position of the slave, I feel that my life path would be very different from that of Ms. Holmes, whom I choose as an object of comparison. The differences in our life paths would be determined, at first, by our social and educational backgrounds. She notes that her parents were uneducated, and we can conclude from her narrative that, moreover, they were illiterate. Meantime, both my parents have a degree, their level of education and, thus, cultural development is much higher.
The next difference is that it’s obvious that my parents were able to provide me more attention than Ms. Holmes got from her mother and father. The slaves had to work all the day long, they were very tired, and the only thing that interested most of them was the survival of their descendants. They had no opportunity and no time to take care of feelings, desires and hidden dreams of their children; they couldn’t provide them needed love, attention and care to let their kids feel they were loved. Thus, as it’s clearly seen from Ms. Holmes’s narrative, they weren’t very emotional towards their kids. At those times it was no wonder when most children in the family didn’t manage to live up to their teens. The attitudes of my parents towards me were different, so that my life as a slave would very different altogether.
It is seen from the narrative that the protagonists wasn’t dissatisfied with her position. She was born as a slave, and she didn’t know any other fate except that of the slave. In the same time if I were a slave it would be a very harmful situation for me, as from my earliest years I was taught that no one has the right to decide for you, and to deprive you of constitutional freedoms. It is also that I was raised by more educated parents, and I’m more educated myself than Ms. Holmes was at the times she described, thus I would feel miserable realizing the horror of the situation I would be in.
From the narrative it is clearly seen that the protagonist never made an attempt to change her position. And, I will repeat myself, it was normal for her, as she was the victim of the persuasion created by the whites, of the superiority of white nation over all other, and especially blacks (Jordan, 1995). In the same time I was taught that all people have equal rights, and it doesn’t depend from the color of their hear, eyes or skin, or stature, thus the idea that people with complexion other than mine are somehow superior would seem absurd to me. It’s obvious that I would rebel against my position, thus my life story would be different.
Another difference would lie in my personal life. Ms. Holmes narrates that she doesn’t know why she married her husband, it was “just living together like cats and dogs”. For me such a position is unacceptable, I would choose my companion carefully, as I don’t want to live with someone just because all people do it, or just because of my instincts. In the same time, the death of my children would cause much harder trauma to me than it did to Ms. Holmes. I am not used to children dying at early age just because of absence of medicaments, food, or clothing, and it would make me feel desperate and helpless.
I suppose that if I were a slave, I would do my best to find the way to get out of this situation. I would put all the efforts to gain freedom, either with labor, or by force. To be honest, I would be a very bad slave, because, unlike poor Ms. Holmes, I’ve tasted the spirit of freedom with my first breath in this world.
- Cowper, W. (2003). William Cowper: Selected Poems. Routledge
- Jordan, W. (1995). White Over Black: American Attitudes Toward the Negro, 1550-1812. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
- Ms. Holmes. “Father Gave Her to His White People After the War”. Rawick, G. (ed). (1972-79). The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press; vol. 18: 175-180