The "scab" of slavery Interracial female solidarity in literature about the Antebellum South

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Description: Writers have portrayed slavery in myriad ways throughout American literature and the American literary imagination. Often ignored, however, is a vital area of slavery which, in large part, comprises the plight of slave women. The objective of this thesis is to explore interracial female solidarity (or lack thereof) in the Antebellum South between slave women and their mistresses as portrayed by both white and black female authors. There is a dichotomous relationship between the ways white women envision the relationship between mistress and slave and the ways black women portray the same relationship. Beneath all of these differing perspectives is the same basic tenet: the idea that women - neither white nor black - are free in the Antebellum South. The authors of the six contemporary novels of slavery explored in this thesis each draw her ideas from history; however, each author's imaginings of how female slaves interacted with white women are vastly different. Willa Cather ( Sapphira and the Slave Girl ), Valerie Martin ( Property ), and Susan Straight ( A Million Nightingales ), white female authors, envision the relationships between mistresses and their slaves in ways that are radically different from black female authors Margaret Walker ( Jubilee ), Sherley Anne Williams ( Dessa Rose ), and Lalita Tademy ( Cane River ). Despite the white women characters' subordinate position in nineteenth-century antebellum society, the white authors are unable to envision the possibility for solidarity between the slave mistresses and their slaves. This is not the case for black women writers of contemporary novels of slavery.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work