Wolf by the Ears by Ann Rinaldi is a fictionalized novel that embraces a controversial subject of enslaving fellow human beings. Nevertheless, the story centers itself on the possible illegitimate daughter of Thomas Jefferson known as Harriet Hemings. Who is involved in a struggle to understand the world she lives in and her place in that world.
The novel’s overview illustrates the moral problems created by the enslaving of fellow human beings that forms the primary theme of Wolf by the ears. In this novel, many will think that it is associate slavery only with the South of the United States, but Colonial New England was also heavily involved with the slave trade, and keeping of African slaves and their descendants as farm and domestic workers was common practice. In addition to keeping slaves on their estates, Thomas Jefferson was one of them and although Thomas Jefferson promoted human rights, and freed many of his own slaves, he was curiously reluctant to speak out forcefully against the institution of slavery all through the book.
Throughout the entire novel one of Jefferson’s slaves, a girl named Harriet Hemings, is the narrator of the novel whose mother Sally is the housekeeper at Monticello, Virginia, Jefferson’s plantation home in the 1800s. The Hemings family: four boys being Tom, Beverly, Madison, Elson and the only girl being Harriet and their mother Sally, are relatively distinct from the rest of the black slave family’s in Monticello. In addition to them being all mulattos (a mix of white and black), Thomas Jefferson treats them differently from other black slaves. Rumors abound that Jefferson is the father of the Heming’s children however, Harriet does not know what to make of these rumors and her mother Sally will not discuss it with her. Harriet’s only way to find out is by asking her older brother, Beverly, an angry young man who believes not only that Jefferson is his father but also that the man should publicly announce his connection to...
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