Comparative Analysis of Slave Narratives

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Comparative Analysis of Slave Narratives Wallace Quarterman (1935) was a slave on Skidaway Island, Georgia before the Civil War. The available audio narrative covers only a portion of his life, primarily from the moment of his freedom through coping with Reconstruction. Aunt Harriet Smith (1941) provides a longer view of her life on the outskirts of San Antonio, Texas, from her childhood through her three marriages. Both reported being treated well by their 'masters' before the Civil War ended. The point at which Quarterman's (1935) narration picks up is when he hears the Union cannons firing close by. At the time, he was 'toting' breakfast for the master, Colonel Fewary. The Colonel interrupted him in his task and asked whether the noise was thunder or something else. Based on the narration, the guns grew close enough that the dishes on the table began to rattle, whereupon the Colonel ordered Quarterman to run out to the fields and tell the driver Peter to let the slaves go. Apparently, there was some fear of retribution if the Union troops came upon plantations still holding slaves. The driver did not believe Quarterman at first, but when the Union troops arrived the slaves threw down their farming implements and began to rejoice. Despite Quarterman's (1935) claim that he was not mistreated by the Colonel, it seems obvious from the rejoicing of the slaves that conditions could not have been great. However, there may be some truth to what he claims, since he was
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