Essay on Slave Narratives

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Slave Narratives

The Classic Slave Narratives give a fascinating, not to mention horrifying, account of the lives of four different slaves: Olaudah Equiano, Mary Prince, Fredrick Douglass, and Linda Brent. These slave narratives tell of four African Americans, who went through very troubling times. The lives of these slaves are all similar in one way or another, but are also very different and unique. These accounts help people to realize what the slaves went through, and how hard life actually was for them.

Olaudah Equiano was the only African American of the four that was actually born free. One day while playing with his sister, they both were kidnapped, and separated. He was eventually brought onto a slave ship, and sold to a
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Mary Prince's family was all slaves: her mother a household slave and her father a sawyer. She tells of her happy childhood- "This was the happiest period of my life; for I was too young to understand rightly my condition as a slave, and too thoughtless and full of spirits to look forward to the days of toil and sorrow." (253) She hadn't realized that she was a slave, and was not yet burdened with the evils of slavery. This happened quite often with children slaves; they usually live a somewhat happy childhood, until a certain age where it is seen that they are fit enough to join the others in their toils day after day, year after year.

Mary Prince probably had to do some of the hardest physical labor of the four slaves. For most of her life as a slave, she was somewhat of a maid. She took care of the children and did the washing and such. But, for some time in her life, she worked at the salt ponds, where she endeared some very serious health problems, which eventually came back to haunt her for the rest of her life. This affected her ability to work, and she was therefore put through many great pains throughout her life. Her master was not sympathetic towards her, and punished her for being "lazy." She remembers one time, ."..I fell sick and could not keep up on my work. She (her mistress)

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