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The Effects Of Dehumanization On Slaves

1096 words - 4 pages

Dehumanization played a crucial role in Beloved, slavery and the civil war by demoralizing, degrading and insulting African Americans.In Beloved, the slaves were dehumanized throughout the story. There were many instances where a slave was demoralized, degraded or abused. There were many instances where one would "get the bit". In chapter seven, Paul D explains how he had the bit in his mouth. "I couldn't... I had a bit in my mouth" (Morrison 69). This is an example of a slave being physically abused. Paul D said this statement when Sethe confronted him about the rape. He was saying how he couldn't speak up because he had the bit in his mouth. It prevented him from talking. He had no way of communicating. In the first amendment of the Constitution, the authors state that all men have the right to freedom of speech. By having a bit in one's mouth, preventing them from speaking, it therefore denies the right of the first amendment. It is one of society's God-given rights to be able to speak, when Paul D has the bit in his mouth, he is essentially reduced to something less than human. He has been turned into an object. He cannot speak, he cannot be free, he is someone's property; he is an object. Humans were not created to be owned and operated like a machine. In this case, Paul D is, and therefore, is dehumanized. Bestiality was a major depiction of dehumanization in this book. The book graphically explains how men had sex with calves. This was a last resort. The men were not allowed to have sexual intercourse with the women unless they were reproducing, therefore as a result of desperation, they resorted to animals. While the men did have their own choice to have sex with the animals, Morrison is showing how sex for pleasure is natural instinct for humans, and because their owners did not allow them to have sexual relations with the women, the men resorted to animals. This is a dehumanizing act because it is morally degrading. The slaves are being forced to make an unfair decision. They must choose between bestiality or no sex at all. Bestiality is demoralizing and abstinence is nearly impossible, but the fact that the masters force a decision such as this upon these men is dehumanizing. When a person is born they are given a first name by the choice of their parents, and a last name that they acquire from their father. If a child is born into slavery sometimes the mother is allowed to name it, but the baby will take the last name of its master. In Paul D's case, he was named 'Paul', but was given the last name of 'Garner', the name of his owner. The 'D' is used to distinguish him from the other Pauls in the story. It is dehumanizing to essentially destroy one's ancestry by taking away their last name. This eliminates the possibility of Paul D passing on his name to future generations, thus ending his family name. Baby Suggs was forced to make a very difficult decision in this book. She had to decide whether or not to let her baby live and suffer...

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