The Modern World Of Slavery Essays

774 Words Nov 10th, 2016 4 Pages
Set at the brink of the Civil War in antebellum Virginia, The Known World reexamines our modern knowledge of slavery through an aggregate of views on what it means to be free and the social construct of identity. Presenting an atypical world of slavery, Jones introduces us to Henry Townsend, a black slave owner and the community of Manchester County where it seems as if everyone: man, woman, black or white, slave or slave owner, no matter wealth or status, is morally compromised. Psychological and political theories can be derived throughout the novel, making it clear that our interpretations of identity are not black and white, literally and racially. An intertwining story of the oppressed and the oppressor, social constraints of freedom and identity, The Known World reveals the ambiguous and oppressive institute of slavery. For a majority of the characters, Manchester County is the extent of their known world, a world ordered by an oppressive caste system and lack of morals that shape their individual identities. The idea of “the known world” is first presented to readers in reference to Sherriff John Skiffington’s map hung up in the town jail. Prisoner Broussard responds to Skiffington’s incomplete and distorted map saying, “I get you better map, and more map of today. Map of today, how the world out together today, not yesterday, not long ago” (174). The map serves as a symbol of the socially constructed boundaries the institute of slavery has made for anyone involved…

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