Louisa May Alcott in My Contraband

Topics: Louisa May Alcott, Orchard House, Little Women, Anna Alcott Pratt, White people, Racism / Pages: 7 (1724 words) / Published: Jul 4th, 2013
Louisa May Alcott in My Contraband

Louisa May Alcott is an American Novelist best known as the author of the novel “Little Women”. Louisa was born in November 1982, grew up in Germantown- Washington D.C and was known to be an abolitionist, feminist and also a naturalist. Being a naturalist meant that she believed that nothing existed beyond the natural earth i.e. no such thing as spirituality or the supernatural. Her family suffered from financial difficulties and so Alcott had to work to support her family in an early age. She penned the story “My Contraband” (1869) which was formerly known as “The Brothers” (1863). Contraband was a black slave who escaped to or was brought within union lines (Alcott 759). In “My Contraband”, Louisa May Alcott utilizes the concept of naturalism to condemn racism in the African American community.

Bob, who is the protagonist in this story and later on in the story is known as Robert Dane, was a contraband who assisted Miss Dane as her servant in the hospital with a patient named Master Ned. Miss Dane who is the narrator and a nurse, later on discovers that Robert is trying to murder Master Ned. Miss Dane, who has fallen in love with Robert’s personality is shocked by what Robert wants to do and successfully convinces Robert not to commit murder. Because of this event, Robert reveals the reasons behind his attempt to murder Master Ned. He and Master Ned were brothers (half brothers) and their father loved Robert because he looked just like him except that their skin was colored differently. For this reason, Robert narrates all the sufferings he underwent at the mercy of Marster Ned. Later, during the Fort Wagner attack in 1863; Master Ned confronts Robert during the war and kills him.

One of the characteristics of naturalism the author uses to criticize racism in this story is Greed. The author brings out Marster Ned’s greedy nature when Robert narrates his story to Miss Dane,

I married her, all I

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