African-American Literature Term Paper

Pages: 3 (1131 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Black Studies

¶ … African-American literature. Specifically it will discuss several key points in slave history, including the effect of slavery on the writers and their families. As these slave narratives clearly show, the period of American slavery was a bleak time in American history. While some Americans felt slaves were "happy," these works indicate just the opposite. They longed for freedom and the ability to work for themselves. They hoped to keep their families together and avoid violent punishment from masters and overseers. They wanted the rights the rest of America took for granted, and their fight for those rights lasted far too long.

African-Americans fought during the Revolutionary War alongside their masters, and some fought because they were promised freedom. They also fought as freemen to gain independence from Great Britain. Some fought on the front lines, and others fought behind the scenes, serving their masters who fought.

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Slaves ran away from their owners for any number of reasons, as all of these narratives indicate. Cruel masters that beat them and treated them harshly were the main reason, as Frederick Douglass' life shows. He writes, "I got no supper that night, or breakfast that morning. I reached Covey's about nine o'clock; and just as I was getting over the fence that divided Mrs. Kemp's fields from ours, out ran Covey with his cowskin, to give me another whipping" (Douglass 41). However, even relatively content slaves, such as Venture Smith, attempted to run away at one time or another. Harriet Jacobs ran away because she knew she was going to be separated from her children, and that she would never be able to buy their freedom.

TOPIC: Term Paper on African-American Literature. Specifically it Will Discuss Several Assignment

Slave owners took tremendous steps to keep their charges from running away. There were fugitive slave laws that would punish anyone who helped a slave run away. The owners also threatened family members if slaves ran away, and slaves knew their families could face punishment or worse if they suddenly disappeared. Jacobs writes of her family, "I had succeeded in cautiously conveying some messages to my relatives. They were harshly threatened, and despairing of my having a chance to escape, they advised me to return to my master, ask his forgiveness, and let him make an example of me" (Jacobs). The owners punished runaway slaves, as well, and usually in front of the rest of the slaves to set an example. Thus, the slave owners had several measures in place to keep slaves from running away.

Each of these texts supported the abolitionist movement by illustrating the horrors of slavery. They each give personal accounts of conditions that even animals should not have to endure. Equiano wrote of his slave ship experience, "I was soon put down under the decks, and there I received such a salutation in my nostrils as I had never experienced in my life: so that, with the loathsomeness of the stench, and crying together, I became so sick and low that I was not able to eat, nor had I the least desire to taste anything" (Equiano 58). Each of the writers has experienced beatings, horrible conditions, and other horrors of slavery, and writing about them brought attention to the plight of the slaves, adding fuel to the abolitionist cause. The slave experience was generally harsh and cruel, which is why so many slaves ran away or tried to run away. They literally had no… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "African-American Literature" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

African-American Literature.  (2006, October 20).  Retrieved August 2, 2021, from

MLA Format

"African-American Literature."  20 October 2006.  Web.  2 August 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"African-American Literature."  October 20, 2006.  Accessed August 2, 2021.