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Religion And Separation Of Family In Eliza Suggs’s Shadow And Sunshine

2081 words - 8 pages

Eliza Suggs’s slave narrative titled Shadow and Sunshine tells the story of her parents’ experiences with slavery. It also details the life of Eliza Suggs living as child just one generation removed from slavery. Shadow and Sunshine was copyrighted in 1906. The narrative opens with an introduction written by Burton R. Jones that informs the reader of Suggs’s character. He emphasizes Eliza Suggs’s strong beliefs in Christian doctrine, resilient nature, and positive outlook. Burton urges the audience to read the narrative by asserting that “good will be accomplished” if people read her narrative. The narrative then continues with a section of Personal Reminiscences and Testimony by C. M. Damon who also vouches for Suggs’s devout Christian faith and outstanding work ethic. He also encourages the reader to finish the novel by guaranteeing the narrative will be intriguing.
Following the introductions, details about Eliza Suggs’s memories of slavery are expressed. It begins with telling the story of his birth and being auctioned off away from his twin brother when he was just three years old. Then Eliza Suggs continues telling her father’s story by discussing his time serving in the Union army and becoming a preacher. After describing her father’s experiences, Suggs describes her mother’s birth. She tells of the anxieties her mother felt when she was separated from her husband during the Civil War. Suggs also discusses her mother’s educational background and the treatment she endured as a slave. In the final section of her narrative, Eliza Suggs delineates the circumstance of her birth and struggles suffering with the rickets throughout her childhood. She also describes the portion of her life when her condition improves and she begins her education. Suggs ends her narrative with a series of poems pertaining the experiences mentioned in her narrative.
Copyrighted in 1906, Eliza Suggs’s Shadow and Sunshine shares several characteristics with other slave narratives of this time period. More specifically, the narrative provides details about the horrors of slavery. The details focus on the treatment of slaves as chattel and the denial of women’s principles to the Cult of True Womanhood . The narrative also conforms to the genre’s tendency to narrate from a first person singular perspective . The narrative mainly focuses on the experience of Suggs’s parents as slaves, however in the conclusion of the narrative, it does deviate from custom of slave narratives focus on the picaro to a focus on slavery as a whole . Similar to other works of this time, the trickster appears in the narrative . Shadow and Sunshine also alludes to American ideals of freedom as defined in the Declaration of Independence . Although the Suggs’s work shares many of the themes of other narratives of its time period, the occurrence of the conversion experience and the separation of family as one of the many horrific occurrences of slavery prevail in the narrative.

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