Slaves Narratives Comparison

The slave trade in the United States of America existed between the 15th and 18th century. People from different regions of the world were brought to America to be sold to farmers and work in the plantations as slaves. Different people came from different regions and have different experiences of the slavery period. This paper compares two narratives on slavery from two different states in America. The paper will focus on Charlie Smith’s (Florida) and Aunt Harriet’s (Texas) narratives on slavery.

Both Charlie and Harriet describe their experiences as slaves and how they perceive slavery from their perspective. From their narrations, slavery is seen as an evil aspect of the traditional American society that oppressed the minorities, most of whom were brought into the country without their consent. From their own words, they expresses the feelings of suffering, neglect and mistreatment to the extent that they thought of themselves as lesser human beings (Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith). According to both Charlie and Harriet, most of the slaves were blacks and had been shipped from Africa through the ocean and into South America where the whites from the south and the north would buy them from the slave traders and use them as free labor in their own farms (Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith). Once bought, in an auction, the slaves would be made to stay with the master in the farm and was subject to the rules of the master without any guiding policy on how they were to be treated.

Charlie Smith was an immigrant slave who was lured into a boat from Liberia and shipped into America by the slave traders. He arrived with no education and no family and was taken by a master, Jake who taught him most of what he knows. From his narration, the image of the slave masters as abusive, oppressing and mistreating is quite vivid. However, he also describes the war between the Northerners and Southerners which according to him led to the end of the slavery (Interview with Charlie Smith). His narration is from a first-person perspective who experienced the oppression of slavery first-hand. He describes how he was oppressed, traumatized and even denied his rights throughout the years until the situation changed. Aunt Harriet, on the other hand, was a daughter of a slave. She did not experience slavery first-hand but always observed the oppression that the masters inflicted on her parents and siblings. She does not know her original home or her parents but believes that they came from West Africa. Her narrative is however more focused on the religion and Christianity and relationship between the slaves themselves and very little details on the slave trade and the oppression (Interview with Aunt Harriet Smith).

From the various narratives in different states, it is clear that slavery in different parts of America had a lot of similarities. In general all the slaves were from outside America, brought in by slave traders and sold to the farmers who exploited them in their plantations. In addition, it is clear that the relationship between slaves was friendly and they were able to learn from one another and come together in religion and even social events. Regardless of whether the narrator was an observer or a slave, the experience of a slave is all the same from both perspective. However, the most relevant experience can only be felt when interacting with the former slaves themselves.

 

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