Mourad child to save her from enslavement. (Rustin)
Mourad 1 George MouradM. PouliotteEAE4UA-0215 January 2018 The Devastation Behind Slavery Slavery has been one of the most shocking and worst phenomena throughout the years of slavery. Many mixed feelings have been provoked from slavery with each person. Some people have had to live slavery and some are simply descendants of those who have been slaves. By definition, slavery is a form of exploitation, where a person becomes “owned” by another person and therefore is called a slave The individual who is forced into work is converted from being a human to an object; someone whom has no value and is restricted from any sort of freedom. This tragic phenomena has caused a lot of harm to thousands and thousands of people by taking their lives away and destroying their fate of ever being happy again. Thankfully, with much anticipation slavery was abolished with the end of the Civil War and this started destroying the prejudices concerning the color of skin. (Franklin 162) However, in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, she unveils the horrors of slavery by revealing the story of a former slave, Sethe, who had to face the consequences of slavery. Morrison wrote her novel with the inspiration of Margaret Garner, who murdered her child to save her from enslavement. (Rustin) Being from an African American culture, Morrison felt very personally affected by slavery and the oppression and trauma that was caused to Margaret Garner. She wrote the novel ,Beloved, making sure to keep in mind that she wanted to change many people’s perspective on slavery. After understanding the moral of the story, people may come to the conclusion that slavery has the power to destroy any type of person in any form, whether that be physically, emotionally or spirituality. The phenomena of slavery has that power because it has such a big negative impact on the slaves, they are restricted from freedom; all while trying to avoid enslavement and those who were lucky enough to get out of slavery have experienced trauma. Mourad 2 One of slavery’s effects includes its negative impact on most of the slaves and former slaves. It is also considered to be one of the most dangerous effects on a human. (ARGUMENT) The negative impact of slavery on slaves affects their sense of self, where they also experience self-alienation. Slavery brings a slave to a point where they feel alienated from themselves(FIRST SUBARGUMENT). For instance, in Toni Morrison’s Beloved, a former slave, Paul D, experiences self-alienation. He was alienated from himself to a point where he does not know if the screams he hears are someone else’s or his own (EXAMPLE). For this reason, according to Tom Campbell’s Seven Theories of Human Society, his Adam Smith theory concerning The Social System explains that slaves or former slaves are no longer close from themselves because they have developed emotional coping mechanisms, thanks to slavery. This results in discouragement for the slaves and former slaves. They are discouraged from loving too passionately and feel the need to “lock away” their memories and emotions. (Campbell 93) They become neutralized and have no emotions towards anything anymore. Slaves and former slaves are used to obedience and restricted freedom, which makes them question their worth and if they have any self values. They usually come to the conclusion that they are worth nothing and they do not care about most things since they were often told they were subhuman, whose value is expressed in money. (Campbell 97) Also it results with them losing themselves in the process, hence the self-alienation. This gives slavery the power to be more dominant and to be able to destroy people and their self of steam. Self-alienation would not be such a negative impact if slavery did not exist. But because it does exist, it results with slaves metaphorically turning their feelings off, which eventually destroys their sense of self (EXPLANATION). Moreover, not only does slavery have the power to destroy someone during their enslavement, but also after they were lucky enough to leave or escape slavery . (SECOND SUB ARGUMENT). Former slaves are still attached to their haunted past during slavery. The majority of former slaves develop psychological deficiencies because of what they Mourad 3had to live through. (DeGruy Leary 84) (MINI EXPLANATION) Morrison described in great, but disturbing detail of what some slaves were forced to do to their masters. Many slaves, including the male gender, were forced to give oral sex to please their masters. (156) (EXAMPLE) It is no wonder why former slaves have been paranoid and disturbed by their past because of everything they have done towards their masters. For instance, there is the story of Margaret Garner, who rather than being haunted by the enslavement itself is haunted by what she had done during her enslavement. Morrison’s novel is also based on the story of enslavement from Margaret Garner. She had escaped slavery through the Ohio River with her two year old daughter, (Hannay 26) but what Garner had done to keep her daughter safe was astonishing. Rather than having herself and daughter return to slavery and complete servitude, she took the life of her two year old daughter. (Hannay 27) Many may take this the wrong way but Garner’s actions were justified. For this reason, Garner felt haunted by her daughter everywhere she went. (Hannay 32) After the Garner family and many other slaves were caught escaping enslavement, they were put on trial. (Hannay 30) Margaret Garner’s case was not tried until three months after the death of her daughter. (Hannay 31) Throughout those three months, she was forced to return to slavery along with her husband and their youngest daughter, who was nine months old. (Hannay 31) According to Tom Campbell’s Seven Theories of Human Society, Garner was more susceptible to have paranoia haunt her within that time period. She did not hesitate to believe in the paranormal events that occurred around her. She was ridden with guilt with what she had done. While her master sent her to Arkansas for slave work, her nine month old daughter was thrown overboard after a collision with another boat. (Hannay 36) After that event, Garner tried taking her own life to prevent anymore paranormal events to occur around her. (Hannay 36) She could not cope with the fact that the death of her children, or rather one of her children from a realistic point of view, Mourad 4was her fault. This comes to show that enslavement can drive someone to extremes to forget any haunting memories. Although Garner was not haunted by the slavery itself, it was slavery that made her take her daughter’s life away. Therefore, slavery still has the power to destroy one’s mental state, even if enslavement was not the reason for the destruction of these former slaves. (EXPLANATION) Brief, not only does slavery have a negative impact on the slaves and former slaves, slavery also restricts them to freedom. It is well known that slaves do not have freedom while they are enslaved. (SECOND ARGUMENT) This is the reason why most slaves try to escape slavery and most people who know that they are at risk of being a slave, try to avoid enslavement. Also, many slaves have taken extreme measures to save the ones they deeply love of being enslaved. (FIRST SUB ARGUMENT) For instance, in Beloved, one can notice the main characters, Sethe, love for her daughter as she tries to help her avoid slavery. It is one of the most extreme cases in the novel where she explains that she murdered her daughter eighteen years ago to save her from enslavement. (Morrison 97) Although many may think this is unnatural for a mother to murder her daughter, Sethe’s actions were justified. “Love is or it ain’t. Thin love is no love at all.” (Morrison 194) When she was confronted by Paul D saying that her love is too thick concerning her dead daughter, she replied that a mother has to do many things, although she may not enjoy it, for the name of love (EXAMPLE). For this reason, according to many people, Sethe did the right thing by taking her daughter’s life away, rather than having her live in slavery. Living a life as a slave, being chained and with no freedom is not how a human should live. As a mother, Sethe understands what slavery does to a slave; it destroys you in every possible way and she did not want that for her daughter. Having her daughter dead was a better way to save her from what is Mourad 5to come. Slavery brings one to a point where they wish to be dead and in Heaven rather than living an earthly Hell. Morrison’s aim was to describe how slavery can be very harmful, to a point where a mother had to murder her daughter. The amount of power that slavery controls over a slave’s life is astounding. African Americans were degraded from humans, to that of subhumans, all because of slavery. They were treated with no respect or proper care and that mortified Morrison. Many people did not understand what slavery could do to someone, but they soon realized how much control slavery has over someone who is only battling for freedom and peace (EXPLANATION) Moreover, although enslavement results in restricted freedom for the slaves, many were lucky enough to escape slavery and help their loved ones escape as well (SECOND SUB ARGUMENT). Freedom was the only thing keeping slaves alive, wishing one day they will see their freedom. For instance, Harriet Tubman was a former slave who made their wish of being free come true; she rescued them to their freedom. (Humez 124) She escaped to Philadelphia, where she began working as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. (Humez 139) In 1850, the Fugitive Slave Law was passed, where law enforcement officials were forced to capture any slaves who have escaped, (Humez 122) which only made her plan of rescuing her family and fellow slaves harder. In winter of 1850, she rescued her niece and her two children in Baltimore and then proceeded by bringing them to Philadelphia. (Humez 202) In spring of 1851, she returned to Baltimore to help rescue her other family members. (Humez 203) After many trips to Maryland, she rescued many more salves and by winter of 1851, she planned to migrate to Southern Ontario with a group of 70 slaves. (Humez 241) For this reason, Harriet Tubman gave slaves a reason to keep holding on even when slavery was causing their destruction. However, some slaves she rescued were re-captured by authorities and were either killed or forced to work in slavery again. (Humez 262) What is to realize is that escaping slavery does also gives a slave the unfortunate luck of having their life taken away. Harriet Tubman was a brave woman who risked her life for the freedom of other slaves. Although, what she did not realize was that she was endangering her fellow slave’s lives as well. By having them escape, they had a higher chance of undergoing strict enslavement or being killed. By being killed, they caused themselves their official destruction; death. But by returning to slavery, they had to undergo severe enslavement which only brought them to extreme oppression and suffering, causing slow and painful destruction of their physical and psychological selves. (EXPLANATION OF HARRIET TUBMAN IN RELATION TO MORRISON) Brief, by trying to escape slavery, they only caused themselves more danger and more trauma, which they have to undergo if they were ever to be caught. Slavery has caused the mental destruction of slaves throughout the 19th century, including the destruction of their own identity (3RD ARGUMENT). Those who were lucky enough to escape slavery still had the trouble of living with trauma; the trauma of slavery. Many may think that once slaves have escaped enslavement, they are living in freedom and happiness. However, that is not the case for every slave (SECOND SUB ARGUMENT). For instance, many slaves have developed mental illnesses due to the disturbing years they have spent in slavery. (DeGruy Leary 84)This has a big effect on them psychologically. Not only was Morrison inspired by the main aspect of Garner’s story – which was murdering her daughter to rescue her from enslavement ?ù she was also inspired of how Garner lived with trauma and fear of slavery when she was no longer a slave. During her time as a slave, Margaret Garner underwent whippings from her masters which left “tree” scars on her back. (Hannay 16) More abuse has haunted Garner since her time as a slave, and that includes the pain she inflicted upon herself as well. (Hannay 17) Her wounds come not only from slavery, Mourad 7but her resistance to it. Morrison describes her view towards Garner’s trauma in her inspired novel by saying, “memories of these wounds as they still disturb the free.” (Morrison 213) For this reason, slavery does cause a long-term trauma. One cannot undergo something as traumatizing as slavery and come out completely fine. The suffering Margaret Garner lived through was the reason why Toni Morrison wrote Beloved.(EXAMPLE) She tells the story of Garner`s suffering even after having been freed. According to Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America`s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing by Dr. Joy DeGruy Leary, overt and subtle forms of slavery and racism have damaged the poor mental and physical health of many African Americans. No former slave can truly be liberated after undergoing oppression. The memories of slavery and the suffering they underwent will always be a reminder of the traumatizing oppression. Many former slaves develop mental illness, such as depression and paranoia. Dr. DeGruy Leary explains that many former slaves will try to commit suicide to stop the depression and the hallucinations caused by paranoia. The oppression of slavery can destroy the slaves who have come out of enslavement. Not only does slavery cause destruction of one’s mental and physical self during their enslavement, but also after slavery. The oppression will, in Dr. DeGruy Leary’s words, “eat them alive”. The memories of slavery will become too overpowering for any former slave to bare and therefore, it will results in their destruction of self. (DeGruy Leary 203) (EXPLANAITON) Moreover, slavery does not only cause trauma to the former slaves, but to the generations of their descendants (SUB ARGUMENT). These generations have borne the scars of enslavement and therefore, America today has been inculcated in an effective system of race hierarchy, where the light-skin people of America are more likely to succeed in today’s society. For instance, the death of Michael Brown, a teenage boy who was shot and killed by Missouri police, raised the voices of the black community in the United States of America. (Clarke) According to CNN, Darren Wilson, the white officer to fired twelve rounds to an unarmed Michael Brown, accused Brown of robbing a nearby convenience store. The police officer had no right to shoot and kill Brown when he was not considered a threat to Wilson and his partner. However, Wilson still took the situation to its advantage and proceeded to fire a ridiculous amount of bullets on an unarmed teenager. Many people have took to social media to experience their thoughts by saying racism has not come to a stop in the United States of America (EXAMPLE). For this reason, the story of Michael Brown and many more, such as Eric Garner and Trayvon Martin, raised awareness to end racism. Slavery started in America because race in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries played an influential role. (Franklin 22) This distinguished any human being with a dark complexion to be a minority. Slaves were forced to carry the weight of being from a different color of skin and were forced to face the destruction of their self and their identity. A society made it possible to start racism and a society will make it possible to end it. However, that is not the case. Racism still exists within many societies and the descendants of the former slaves from the nineteenth century are forced to live with the scars that were passed on from generation to generation. Slavery had the power to destroy a slave physically and psychologically and, unfortunately, slavery still has the power to destroy any descendant of a former slave. Brief, one many think the suffering and oppression of slavery has ended but it is still present with racism within the occidental society. (EXPLANATION)To conclude, Toni Morrison’s inspiration for her novel was something she felt terribly affected by. She wanted to express her emotions with something she truly cared about. In Beloved, she explains Margaret Garner’s story through her main character, Sethe, all while trying to understand the difficulty slavery has to offer. The negative impact of slavery, the freedom the slaves thrive for and the trauma of slavery all were things she expressed in her novel, while using real-life witness who, unfortunately, had to undergo some brutal pain. Enslavement brought a lot of fear into the lives of black people: they brutally experienced unnatural pain, black women and some black men were forced into sexual intercourse with their masters, they were very close to seeing their death by the whippings they received, and slaves had to lose their family members – all because they were of different skin color. Nevertheless, slavery has become one of the most important lesson for the entire nation. There should be no condition where one race can possess supremacy over another one. Work CitedCampbell, Tom. Seven Theories of Human Society. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1981. Print.Clarke, Rachel and Castillo, Mariano. “Michael Brown shooting: What Darren Wilson told the Ferguson grand jury” CNN. 7 Dec. 2014. Print. Franklin, John Hope. From Slavery to Freedom. New York: McGraw-Hill Inc., 2011. Print. Hannay, Margaret Rose. Writing Margaret Garner: Nineteenth Century Sentimental Literature on Margaret Garner and Toni Morrison’s Beloved. Middletown: Wesleyan University, 2010. Print. Humez, Jean M., Harriet Tubman: The Life And The Life Stories. Wisconsin: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006. Print. Leary Degruy, Joy. Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing. Portland: Joy DeGruy Publications Inc., 2005. Print. Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York: Random House, Inc., 1987. Print. Rustin, Susanna. Interview with Toni Morrison. The Guardian. (2008). Print.