When Even the Rat was White was announced as the book that we would be assigned to read and complete a reflection on, I felt indifferent. The title generated the all too familiar themes of cultures being white-washed. In other words, the United States has a past and ongoing history of taking every culture and putting a European spin on it. Naturally, with the announcement of this title, I immediately thought of the Eurocentric atmosphere that is diligently maintained in this country. With that title, the book had to be about the history of that. Also, there were thoughts brought to mind about the book including more information about the cultures that were disregarded and misappropriated.
The novel clearly reiterates the notion that more people conform than rebel when confronted with authoritarian control. The animals in the novel are divided into two categories. Those who have knowledge and therefore power, and those who lack knowledge and therefore are submissive. The main difference is that the submissive animals such as the horses and sheep represent the people that chose to stay uneducated, as it is a much less difficult pathway. They chose this because knowing consequences creates threatening actions against the livelihood of the animals. Despite the animals suffering from violence, poor conditions, and being overworked, they continue to conform as it becomes an easier lifestyle for them. The repetition of the lines “Napoleon is always right” and “I will work harder” showcases how the farm animals follow the routine of others and resign to conformity as their means of life, for it is an easier, simpler outlook to life for them. The idea of being an outlier and having a voice is forsaken by the animals, as the narrative evolves they witness more and more unruly acts of behaviour from the pigs, who are controlling the farm. The emotive language used within the line “Silent and terrified, the animals crept back into the barn” effectively demonstrate how a wave of melancholic and frightened emotions flood through the farm animals, creating a sense of compliance within. The use of threatening tone within the lines “At this there was a terrible baying sound outside, and nine enormous dogs wearing
Douglass not only describes slaves as animals, but he describes slave treatment as if they were animals to further describe the horrendous lives of slaves. Slaves were fed food in troughs (36). By choosing the word “trough”, Douglass emphasizes the poor treatment of slaves; slaves were not good enough to be fed from bowls or plates, they were no better than animals. Douglass also compares women on the plantations to breeding animals. Women were expected to reproduce in order to increase their masters’ wealth, not to create a family. Women and children were separated before the child was a year old so they would not form familial bonds with one another. When Douglass’ own mother died, he compared it to a stranger dying because he had no connection with her (18). Slaves were not only thought of animals, but also fostered as animals. Douglass describes Mr. Covey as a “nigger-breaker”, Douglass was broken in “body, soul, and spirit” by
Page 19 displays an image of a deer’s body with a black face in place of the deer’s. This image follows the story of a black patient going to visit a therapist and entering her home through the backyard. The therapist becomes antagonistic, until she realizes the African American woman is a patient of hers, at which point she apologizes immediately. This image shows the perspective of the patient after being demeaned by the therapist. The deer’s stance and features show that it feels confused and helpless, just as anyone in this situation would feel. The therapist acts threateningly towards this human, strictly due to the color of her skin. The deer stays reclusive so as not to provoke any dangerous reaction, as the patient hopes to do so with her therapist. “How can a therapist of all people, have such disregard for humanity over something so insignificant?” was the first question that came to mind. It is astonishing that there are similar people working in
To begin, Douglass uses imagery to describe the heart wrenching experience of a slave child on a plantation. Without adequate food or clothing, slave children begin the process of dehumanization. Denied blankets or beds, the children slept on the cold and damp floor and Douglass describes with horrid detail his “feet [being] so cracked with the frost, that the pen which [he is] writing might be laid in the gashes”(1836). This painful description creates empathy for a mistreated child whose only “crime” results from his birth to a black mother. In the most dehumanizing comparison, Douglass uses animal imagery to reveal the conditions and manner in which the children are fed. Douglass writes:
The treatment of blacks is frightening. The white society really believes that blacks deserve no better. In his article “Imagery in the ‘Battle Royal’ Chapter of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man,” Norman German states, “the animal imagery graphically highlights Ellison’s theme that when one sex or race treats another as an object or animal, both become dehumanized or bestial” (1). Ellison stated, “Much of the rhetorical and political energy of white society went toward proving to itself that we were not human” (German 2). The white men in “Battle Royal” not only treat the young black men as animals, or objects, but also the stripper. Therefore, they become animals themselves.
The depiction black struggles within Dunbar’s dialect poetry makes Dunbar’s poetry beneficial for the black race. For example, in “An Ante-bellum Sermon,” when Dunbar writes “But when Moses wif his powah Comes an' sets us chillun free, We will praise de gracious Mastah, Dat has gin us liberty; An' we'll shout ouah halleluyahs, On dat mighty reck'nin' day, When we'se reco'nised ez citiz', Huh uh! Chillun, let us pray!”, he is depicting a common feeling of African Americans. Although this poem takes place before the Civil War, and before Dunbar’s birth, both of Dunbar’s parents were ex-slaves, which gave him an understanding of slavery. With an understanding of slavery, Dunbar was able to depict the desire for slaves to be rid of the unjust system. Beyond that, the idea is still applicable to the time in which he lived. From one issue to another, people anticipate equality while in dire situations. Similarly, in “Song,” Dunbar depicts the harmful race relations from his time. Instead of the black experience being told from a sympathizer perspective, Dunbar has a better understanding of what it was like to be black in the 1890s. The competition and hate between flowers symbolizes the conflict between white and black people. Through this metaphor, especially at the end when they celebrate the death of all daisies when he writes “In de fiel’ de flags is wavin’ in a tantalizing’ way, Kin o’ ‘joicin’ case de daisies all is daid,” Dunbar depicts the hateful race relations of his time. Dunbar’s representation of black issues brings attention to them, which benefits African Americans.
All three of the poems discussed in this essay relate to the struggles suffered by African Americans in the late 18th century to the early 19th century in many different ways. They had to live under harsh
The opening line, “If we must die—let it not be like hogs” (McKay 1), focuses on the contingency of black lives with the use of ‘if’. With McKay opening the poem with an existential question, one is left to wonder what kind of terrors awaited the black community. At this time race riots were a frequent occurrence, from Chicago to Charleston the lives of African-Americans were expendable. The idea that their lives were dispensable lends to McKay’s statement, “…let it not be like hogs/ Hunted and penned in an inglorious spot…”(2). Implying that their lives may be in the same realm of
Cullen utilizes imagery throughout the poem, to illuminate the racism African Americans endured and impact racism carries. The speaker in the poem is an eight year old in Baltimore. In the first stanza, Cullen describes the child as “heart-filled, head-filled with glee.” This image portrays the speaker as innocent and joyful. Then the speaker notices a boy staring at him, the speaker believes there’s little difference between them, that the kid “was no whit bigger.” The speaker gets a rude awakening after the boy “poked out his tongue.” A seemingly playful meaningless gesture is met with the boy calling the speaker “N****r.” Cullen contrasts these two experiences because it depicts how racism comes out of nowhere and effects those you wouldn’t expect. The last stanza, the speaker “saw the whole Baltimore. The image of seeing is not just visual, but a metaphor for the loss of innocence where the speaker now is exposed to the hate. Cullen masterfully uses imagery so that readers understand the incredible impact that words have, especially when used for hate.
In Langston Hughes' poem, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers", he examines some of the roles that blacks have played throughout history. Ultimately, the poem asserts that in every one of these aspects the black people have been exploited and made to suffer, mostly at the hands of white people. The poem is written entirely in first person, so there is a very personal tone, even though the speaker symbolizes the entire black race. The examples of each role cited in the poem are very specific, but they allude to greater indignities, relying on the readers' general knowledge of world history. To convey the injustice that has taken place, Hughes utilizes the symbolism of the
Throughout this poem Hughes has placed many symbols in the readers mind to bring the image of the African American people to thought. He reminds African American readers of their origin and what they have been through by using the
“I am black, I am black!” constantly sprinkles Browning’s 1846 narrative, “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point.” The phrase takes aim at American slavery and reminds us that its prisoners “had no claim to love and bliss,” (92) while in servitude. Boldly, the speaker asks us to bear witness to the human leftovers of this system of violence, especially in the case of a female slave at Plymouth Rock. Here, she debates existence, exposes deep emotion wounds, and murders her infant son. The act is done for “liberty,” but we find the mother’s violence difficult to digest. Starting from a point of respect, we suggest that the “The Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” really concerns a lack of respect for toward life that not only flaws her judgments
The rhetorical effect of this poem is it emphasizes that African Americans have to wear a mask because the people around them don’t let them show their true feelings. Before the Civil Rights Movement, blacks had no voice and could not speak their opinions. The rhetorical devices do very well to help meet the rhetorical
The main observation readers could take from this poem is that the “lower” individual has to take care of and pick up after the white man. It is even hinted at that the poems the mother chant rival the alleged master of poetry’s own works.