Slave Narrative : Literacy And The Trope Of The Talking Book

2101 Words9 Pages
Slave Narrative: Literacy and the Trope of the Talking Book The literary form of the slave narrative grew out of the first-person, written accounts of individuals who had been enslaved in Britain, the United States and other areas. These narratives documented life under the yoke of slavery, detailing the hardships and abuses these people endured, but they also showed a resilience of spirit and determination as these individuals strove to attain freedom. There are similarities to be found in these accounts that help give readers a sense of the life and struggles of these people. A common theme in each of these stories is a search for education and literacy, often marred by the limitations placed on Black people, both those who were enslaved and those who had obtained their freedom. For slaves and their teachers, the exercise of reading and writing was a dangerous and illegal one. Throughout the south, individuals caught teaching a slave to read would face imprisonment, fines and beatings. The slaves would suffer even more brutal punishment for attempting to learn to read and write, including the amputation of fingers and toes. Despite these obstacles, literacy was seen as the primary step in becoming emancipated, the first necessary step to joining a free society. Knowledge is empowering; allowing an individual to read contracts that dictate their freedom, or lack thereof, the ability to understand newspapers with information about abolitionist ideas, and the ability
Get Access