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Slavery And The Road To Freedom: "Jubilee" By Margaret Walker

2100 words - 8 pages

To the plantation owner, the abundant land of America was useless without sufficient labor to work it. To the plantation owner, without slavery, the economy of America would have vanished. Slavery was terrible for men, but it was far more terrible for women. Such a strong and powerful statement shows some direct evidence of the suffering of enslaved women, as told to us by Margaret Walker in "Jubilee". African Americans carried a huge burden because of slavery, but black women, like Vyry, had to carry a double burden because of their biological makeup. To be a black woman in slavery was absolutely the lowest point in society, for an enslaved woman, it was an experience of emotional, mental, and physical anguish. Vyry not only showed the reader her emotional, mental and physical anguish, she also showed her strength and perseverance. It was her life and longing for freedom that drove her. "Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?" (Henry).The warm climate, boundless fields of fertile soil, long growing seasons, and numerous waterways provided favorable conditions for farming. The richness of the South depended on the productivity of the plantations. With the invention of the cotton gin, expansion of the country occurred. This called for the spread of slavery. Their white owners owned and controlled slaves, from birth to death. Vyry's mother was a slave, her father the slave master. Vyry was a woman, born into slavery. Black men, women, and children toiled in the fields and houses under horrible conditions. After the death of her mother, Vyry was put to work in the big house as Miss Lillian's personal servant. She has a difficult time adjusting, often made mistakes and was harshly punished by Big Missy, the master's wife. She learns quickly to obey and learns skills from Aunt Sally, another slave, who acts as Vyry's mother. The slave system attempted to destroy black family structure and destroy human dignity, much as breaking the spirit of a dog by cruelty. Slaves led a hard life on the Southern plantations. Those not killed or lucky enough to escape the slave-catching raids were chained together. When Lucy's face is branded with an "R" because she ran away, Vyry was traumatized. This is a symbol of the horrors of slavery. The slaves had no understanding of what was happening to them. They were from different tribes and of different speaking languages. Walker used the different dialect of the slaves when writing "Jubilee".Although slaves such as Innis Brown, Vyry's second husband, were not being paid, some were doing more skilled work than poor whites. The better-behaved slaves were allowed to be carpenters, masons, bricklayers, or ironworkers. The construction of bridges, streets, canals, railroad lines, public buildings, and private homes was made possible by using slave labor, though the slaves had no rights. This was done to keep them from revolting against their masters or attaining too much...

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