Evolution of the dichotomy Self and Other Within American History
American’s culture has been a big influence for American literature; because it not only has serves writers to convey the lives of Americans ancestors, but also to express their thoughts and feelings. Furthermore, American literature shows the power exerted by the white Americans against African American slaves. The superiority of white Americans over blacks population forms part of American heritage and it is reflected in American literature.
The “Narrative of The Life” by Olaudah Equiano, who witnesses the power that white Americans exert against people of color, not only presented his story to the reader so people could learn the reality about slavery, but also shows how American literature was influences by factual events that happened throughout the years. Equiano tells the reader how he was almost put to dead by a white man:
“I was with some negroes in their master yard, in the town of Savannah…Doctor ...view middle of the document...
“Notes of the State of Virginia, from Query XIV. Laws Slavery” by Thomas Jefferson also reflects how the white Americans used their power to implement their racism against the blacks. Jefferson approaches the term of slavery by making a comparison between the superiority of the white race, and the uncivilized blacks. He describes black’s physical stereotype, “they have less hair on the face and body. They secrete less by the kidneys, and more by the glands of the skin, which gives them a very strong and disagreeable odor…it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior…whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.”(Jefferson 669,670,673). Jefferson writing shows biases towards African Americans by making the blacks appear as objects that are incapable of thinking, besides of reflecting that they were considered a second class population.
“Narrative of The Life”, by Frederic Douglass, also portrays the power of the whites against the blacks. Douglas shares with more detail one of his experiences of his journal as a slave, when he was under the power of Mr. Covey, in where he witnessed how he used a female slave as a breeder: “Mr. Covey bought her from Mr. Thomas Lowe… she was a large, able-bodied woman, about twenty years old…after buying her, he hired a married man of Mr. Samuel Harrison, to kive with him one year, and hm he used to fasten up with her every night! The result was that at the end of the year, the miserable woman give birth to twins...the children were regarded as being and addition to [Mr. Covey’s] wealth.
As in Equino’s and Jefferson writings, Douglas also talks about slavery, and the aversives situations he has to suffer under the power of Americans, who in this cases also treat them as animals that could breed to increase the amount of slaves in their possession, therefore, they would increase their power, because during that time, the white who owned the majority of slaves was consider the most powerful.
American Literature reflects the powerful status of the whites over the black population, and also the struggle of the blacks to acquired their own self – identity.