Slave Oppression

Topics: The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman, Slavery, Ernest J. Gaines Pages: 8 (3341 words) Published: October 7, 2012
Slave Oppression
During the 19th century, slavery was an extremely dehumanizing period. The complete control over another human being’s life brought many hardships and disappointments. Families were separated and, for African-Americans, the slave era was extremely depressing. Slaves were often beaten, or killed for the simple incompletion of a task. Women had no rights and were used for cooking, for cleaning, and for the creation and nurturing of babies. There were often instances of lynching and burnings of African-Americans simply because of their skin color. Slavery is uniquely American because it plays a major role of the formation of The United States today. During this time period, slave masters had the complete control over a slave. Slaves were bought as profit; therefore, they were considered to be property and did not have any freedom. Slaves worked long, extensive hours, most times without breaks African-Americans were transported to The United States as slaves and their major struggle was surviving in an oppressive society. Ironically, Africans and African-Americans have a unique culture that captures the attention of other races—music, tradition, sports, language, and folk mythology. Sometimes, blacks forget about the richness of their history and the significant accomplishments that have been made for the race to progress. Ralph Ellison and Ernest Gaines are two African-American authors who come from completely different backgrounds, but provide an interesting viewpoint on the struggle of an African-American. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man and Ernest J. Gaines’s The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman are two fictional books, which both narrators are African-Americans who are struggling to survive in oppressing societies. The setting of Ellison’s Invisible Man takes place in between the 1940s and the mid-1950s and it focuses on the narrator, who never reveals his name. This is a time period when the United States did not provide equal opportunity for all of its citizens and there were many instances of racism. The narrator refers to himself as the IM (Invisible Man) because he feels unrecognized in society as an African-American. One of the struggles African-Americans faced is the stereotype that all blacks were entertainers for whites. An example of treacherous entertainment is the boxing match in which the IM is forced to participate. To his surprise he is to “…see some of the most important men of the town quite tipsy…bankers, lawyers, judges, doctors, fire chiefs, teachers, merchants. Even one of the more fashionable pastors” (Ellison 18). The most important men of the town attend this boxing match of African-Americans under the influence of alcohol, which means they are ready to laugh and have a good time. This shows the cruelty of the treatment of African-Americans and how African-Americans were used as objects because the town’s most professional business owners came to watch them humiliate themselves. This boxing match symbolizes racism and how blacks are still being considered less of a person. This type of action cause blacks to feel belittle in the oppressive society. The Invisible Man feels, “blindfolded, [he] could no longer control [his] motion. [He] had no dignity” (Ellison 22). This causes the Invisible Man to “assert his own individuality in his own terms” (McPherson 177) which is peculiar to any African-American. This type of actions forces blacks during this time period to compete against one another. For example, the Invisible Man states, “[He] felt superior to them in [his] own way, and [he] didn’t like the manner in which [they] were all crowded together into the servants” (Ellison 18).The invisible man felt he was better, and he did not belong in the same elevator with others. The narrator exemplifies his feeling of superiority by asking, “…why did they insist upon confusing the class struggle with the ass struggle, debasing both us and them-all human motives” (Ellison 418)? The IM is...
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