The dynamic of the relationships between slaves and their master was one which was designed to undermine and demean the slave. The master exercised complete authority and dominion over his slaves and treated them harshly. The masters’ perception of blacks was that they lacked self-discipline and morality. They justified slavery by claiming that they were training the slaves to master self discipline through work and also train them in the precepts of God. Not all masters were harsh and cruel. Some treated their slaves with kindness and subsequently were well loved. However, it still emerges that a majority of even the kindest masters still did not attach much humane value to their slaves. This has been exemplified in that despite amicable relationships, the slaves were rarely freed but instead passed on to other masters after the demise of their master like any other property owned by the late master.
Slave women were also subjected to sexual abuse by their masters. The masters demanded sexual relations from the slave women they found desirable. They did this without any consideration of their own personal marital status and that of the slave. There was tension between slave husbands of abused women and their masters often resulting in fights between the two. Slave women were also subjected to jealousy and rage from mistresses whose husbands’ engaged in these illicit affairs. In conclusion, the slave could not expect to enjoy a fulfilling relationship with the master. The very essence of slavery was cruel and demeaning, making it difficult for any meaningful and mutually satisfying relationship to exist.
This paper explores the relations that existed between slaves and their masters as portrayed by Jacobs . It will explore the perceptions of masters towards their slaves and how these affected their treatment of them. It will also seek to identify the nature of sexual relationships between masters and their slaves. Jacobs describes an incident when at about 12 years old her mistress had died . She explains that she and her mistress had an amicable relationship. Her mistress had taught her that God’s word required one to love one’s neighbor as themselves and hoped that her mistress would release her from bondage. Her mistress had however bequeathed her to her five year old niece. This act caused her much grief and made it clear that her late mistress did not quite consider her a neighbor.
The Slave: Property
The narrative begins with the tale of Jacob’s childhood. She tells tales of a childhood oblivious to slavery being allowed to enjoy the pleasures of child’s play. Her mother died when she was six years old and was left under the mastership of her white foster sister. On her deathbed, her mother’s white sister promised to protect her slave sister’s children. While, this was true during her lifetime, upon her death, Jacob’s expected that she would be freed. Jacob’s first painful realization that despite what appeared...