The Witness

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The Witness
(An American short story written in 1944.)

The Witness is an American short story written in 1944 by the American author Catherine Anne Porter. The story is written in third-person singular he/she. There is no certain point were the narrator is shown however it’s possible that the story is told through the eyes of one of the children, who listens to our main characters many stories. The author uses a lot of adjectives to make the story more coloured and dynamic. This also gives the story more intensity and it’s easier for you, as a reader, to feel sympathy for the characters in the story. There is an obvious difference in tone when Uncle Jimbilly is speaking. The narrator uses perfect English to tell the story, while uncle Jimbilly speaks in workers class English and “slave-slang”. The purpose of this difference might be to colour the story and to give the characters more individuality. The short story is set in America. The year and date is uncertain but it appears that the story takes place in the end of the 1800’s or in the beginning of the 1900’s; “they knew, of course, that once upon a time Negros had been slaves; but they had all been freed long ago and were now only servant” – this indicates that story was written after the Emancipation Proclamation but Negros still at this time served as servants. The surroundings could be any suburb in America, however it’s an upper-class community since the family who Uncle Jimbilly serves, can afford a household.

“The witness” is a very suitable title for this particular short story. The title is definitely referring to our black main character Uncle Jimbilly, who throughout his life has been a witness to the black slavery. He has seen his kinsmen being oppressively molested and used as draught horses by the white men, they were as mentioned in the text “whipped till their backs were all raw and bloody.” It appears in the text that Uncle Jimbilly was only a household slave himself, and was therefor...
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