Symbols Of Slavery In Various Works

1174 words - 5 pages

"Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation: conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal (Abraham Lincoln: The Gettysburg Address)." Abraham Lincoln said this on November 19, 1863 on the battlefield near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. "All men are created equal." This statement seems obvious now, but by reading many different novels, short stories, and some films I have seen that this was not obvious for a very long time, and still today some people don't believe the statement that "All men are created equal."
"What are you knotting there, my man?"
"The knot," was the brief reply without looking up.
"So it seems, but what is it for?"
"For someone else to undo," muttered the old man, plying his fingers harder than ever,
the knot being now completed. (Melville "Benito Cereno" 66)
This passage is referring to the "knot" that is slavery, in which we have been trying to undo for centuries. Has it been undone? Have we finally untied the knot of slavery? It's pretty obvious by reading these novels and short stories that the answer is no.
In Herman Melville?s short story ?Benito Cereno,? (which was written in 1855) there are numerous scenes to show Melville?s view on slavery. One is the scene with the knot, (the passage shown above) where Melville is saying that slavery is an impossible problem to solve, and most likely never will be solved unless some sort of bold, unexpected action takes place. This idea is very similar to the myth about Alexander the Great, and the Gordian Knot. The myth says that an oracle told everyone that whoever could untie this knot would rule all of Asia. After many people tried to untie it and all of them failed, Alexander the Great came along and unexpectedly took out his sword, cut it and unraveled it. He later became the ruler of Asia. In our case, we (The United States) have yet to untie the knot, and I don?t think that the knot will ever be untied, or even cut by an Alexander the Great. Another way that Melville shares how he feels about slavery is what he left out of ?Benito Cereno.? Which is Babo?s side of the story. Melville is subtlety saying that we never listen to the black side of the story, almost as if it is unnecessary.
The Adventure?s of Huckleberry Finn is a novel that also shows the racial discrimination we have. The novel takes place in the 1840?s but was published in 1884. The story itself is racially controversial because of the character Jim and the use of the word ?nigger.? Jim is a slave, who becomes friends, and almost a father figure to a young white boy named Huck. The novel is based around how their friendship changes, and how Huck?s view of Jim change?s. Huck first seems him just as a ?nigger? or a slave. He even compares how he feels towards him to a Newfoundland dog. Huck plays pranks on him throughout the story, making Jim appear to be inferior and unintelligent. The word ?nigger? is also...

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