Slave Narratives

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A common theme among the narratives of Olaudah Equiano and Frederick Douglass, and David Walker’s “Appeal” is the slave’s wretchedness. However, there is a significant difference in the way each of these authors present their own personal perspective, to make the case about and against the slave system. Equiano’s autobiography is a direct and diplomatic plea to the royal class in England for the abolition of slavery. In a letter directed to the Parliament of Great Britain he writes “May the God of Heavens inspire your hearts with peculiar benevolence on that important day when the question of Abolition is to be discussed, when thousands in consequence of your determination, are to look for happiness or misery!” (The Classic Slave Narratives, page 18). Douglass, on the other hand, through his autobiography, takes a sharp political position to expose the slave’s mental and physical struggles under Christian slaveholders which, he believes, they [the slaves] have to overcome to free themselves from slavery. Douglass decision to fight back against Covey’s brutal beatings, for him as a slave, is the turning point “It was a glorious resurrection, from the tomb of slavery, to the heaven of freedom” he writes (Page 395). Finally, Walker’s Appeal is a treatise against slavery. It depicts the most despicable form of oppression that any human being could exert against another human being. Walker’s “Appeal” is the foundation for Martin Luther King ‘call to resist injustice by civil disobedience’ and Malcolm X assertion of ‘the right to self defense’. Walker, while defending his work from slaveholders and many freed blacks, whom he calls ignorant for aiding the slaveholders, writes “I appeal to Heaven for my motive in writing-who knows that my object is, if possible to awaken in the breasts of my afflicted, degraded and slumbering brethren, a spirit of inquiry and investigation respecting our miseries and wretchedness in this REPUBLICAN LAND OF LIBERTY!!!!!!”...
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