Characteristics Of Slave Narratives

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Slave Narratives were written by the slaves themselves or narrated by them and written by a friend or a relative and some were even passed on orally. These narratives depicted the difficult lives of the hardworking slaves; description of cruel masters, whippings, difficulties encountered in learning to read and write, slave auctions and their successful attempts to escape as well as foiled escape attempts. One of the defining characteristics of the slave narrative is the testimonial or letter of authenticity generally written by a white editor or abolitionist friend of the narrator. In order to be published, black authors had to be endorsed by whites who could testify to their credibility and the authenticity of their stories. One of the defining…show more content…
Other distinguishing characteristics of the slave narrative are its simple, forthright style; vivid characters; and striking dramatic incidents, particularly graphic violence and daring escapes, such as that by Henry "Box" Brown, who packed himself into a small crate and was shipped north to waiting…show more content…
Often slaves who attempted a secret education were penalised and this led to either disfigurement or even death. Certain slave writers focused on the quest for literacy which these slaves believed were in a way often linked with their personal quest for freedom. Slaves who managed to learn to read and write were the ones who were most likely to escape, because they could use their hard-earned knowledge to forge their own passes after having read about the successful escapes made by the other similar slaves from the other plantations. Like the Negro spirituals – religious songs sung by the Negroes – the slave narratives have had a profound impact on the contemporary American literature scenario. And like the lively negro spirituals — which often contained secret codes and messages that were decipherable only by the enslaved blacks — the slave narratives were considered dangerous and subversive by many of the slaveholders and these plantation owners feared that these narratives might lead to slave revolts and
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