Slavery; Effects on Individuals
Slavery affected everyone on and individual level, from the slaves, to the very people who would try to whip the slaves into "shape". Slavery seamed to affect everyone differently; the children, the adults, the men, and the women. One can see the various ways in which a person is affected through slavery by reading historical fiction like Kindred by Octavia E. Butler or slave narratives such as The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave. In both of these books, you can compare how the main characters are affected by slavery, and how it was different, but similar for everybody.
In some ways all slaves are affected equally by slavery. I believe that all slaved wanted to escape but where afraid of their masters and the consequences that might follow. They all longed for freedom, for a little knowledge, like how to read and write, or maybe they wanted to know about how they lived before. Slaves start becoming mad that they do not get any information and took it into their hands to learned, or at least try to learn. Slaves lost all ties to their native culture, and language. They became trained pets who had to follow anything their masters would tell them to follow. African slaves where brainwashed into thinking white was good, and black was bad. This might have caused them to begin hating themselves for being colored, and thought that they deserved to be slaves because they were not white.
Slavery affects different slaves in various ways depending on the age or gender. For example, while adults where very resentful of slavery, children accepted it as the way of life. As shown in Kindred, children might have played games in which they would sell each other, for different prices depending on what they thought the others were worth. The children have not lived any other life except the ones which they have been born into, and the adults would probably refrain from telling them stories of freedom in fear that a mindless child would try to escape. But, as the children would get older, they would become aware that they had once been free people who had been forcefully taken from their land in order to be treated as a pet or animal by the white slaveholders.
Black men and women had very different experiences during slavery. Black men could be hurt physically by being whipped or hit, but women could not only be hurt by a whip but also on a deeper more emotional level that most men would never be able to understand. Black women would often get raped by their masters, or by any random white who decided that they could violate a woman no matter what color. Black men would have never been able to experience what African American women experienced during the years before the abolition of slavery. A black woman might feel as though they had had their body disgraced, and no longer had a reason to live. This probably caused a lot of suicides and pain for women during the times of slavery.
Not only did slavery affect the slaves, it might have also affected the slave owners. Many slave owners where decent people, who lived in indecent times which called for them to do horrid things. In Kindred Dana realizes this as she is analyzing Tom Weylin, a plantation owner. "His father wasn't the monster he could have been, he wasn't a monster at all. Just an ordinary man who sometimes did the monstrous things his society said were legal and proper." Dana realizes that just as society is affecting her, society might also be affecting Tom Weylin. Another Example of society affecting slave owners is in The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave "But, alas! this kind heart had but a short time to remain such. The fatal poison of irresponsible power was already in her hands, and soon commenced its infernal work. That cheerful eye, under the influence of slavery, soon became red with rage; that voice, made all of sweet accord, changed to one of harsh and horrid discord; and that angelic face gave place to that of a demon." At first, Fredrick Douglas's mistress, Mrs. Auld, had taught him the A B C's, and was starting to teach him to read. Mr. Auld found out about this and made sure that Mrs. Auld would never teach a black again. Mrs. Auld proceeded to become crueler than her husband and become angered at Frederick whenever she saw him with a newspaper. These characters show a couple of different ways in which a Slave owner was affected by society.
In the Non Fictional Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, and in the Fictional Kindred, the characters are affected by slavery in similar ways. Margaret Weylin from Kindred and Mrs. Auld from Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave are very similar characters with opposite reactions to slavery. At first Margaret Weylin is very cruel and does whatever she can to get slaves in trouble, or sold, while Mrs. Auld is very helpful, and evry slave feels comfortable around her and is able to look her in the eye. But as the characters progress and become more accustomed to slavery, they become the opposite of what they originally were. Another similar set of characters are Dana and Frederick Douglass. Dana is an educated black who at first does not realize the troubles of slavery, but as she gets more learned about the evils which happened around her, she longs to escape. Frederick Douglas started out being uneducated, but when Mrs. Auld gave him an 'inch' by teaching him the ABC's he took an ''ell' and learned to read and write. Frederick later uses this knowledge in order to escape from the horrors of slavery and become a free Canadian black.
It is now very apparent that during the course of American history, people had many different experiences causing them to be affected by their slavery in diverse ways. Some slaves were affected physically others emotionally. Slave owners were also affected by the society in which they lived. Sometimes men and women would have different experiences than children. The ways in which slaves were affected can be seen in different books and stories like Kindred and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave.