Freedom takes many forms. There is personal freedom,societal freedom, mental freedom, and physical freedom. Freedom is notsubstantial, however might be accomplished through numerous self-encounters. Inthe novels 12 Years a Slave and The Color Purple, freedom violence and racismall play a very important role within the characters.
Many like to argue thatracism is of the past and does not play a part in today’s society, however thatis untrue. Racism is alive, racism is not dead, and it is silently used tobring the black nation down. Racism has been altered to be used in so manyways, individual racism is an example of that. People tend to discriminateothers by saying things that are racist and argue that it is not racist becausethey are expressing how they feel. Another example of this is systemic racism,this is almost invisible within the society, this may be hard to detect attimes because it has become the norm. For example, black males constantly beingstopped by police because of the color of their skin and the fact that 58percent of prisoners are black. In the novels 12 Years a Slave and The ColorPurple, racism is an important factor; but the loss of freedom and violence,specifically domestic violence plays a more prominent role. Both maincharacters of both novels struggle with slavery, psychologically with and the hardships oftheir daily life’s decisions.
This paper will focus solely on the maincharacters and how the loss of freedom impacts them both, as well as thepsychological state after captivity. The narrative of Solomon Northup’s 12 Years a Slave uncovers the understanding of dehumanization ofthe male slave, female slave, and the experts amid the subjugation time framein the American South. Slaves were dehumanized and treated more like animalsthan a human individual. Male slaves, and female slaves were beaten and sold, auctionedand claimed like articles. They were forced to work a great degree, and everyday enduring physical and psychological mistreatment and brutality. SolomonNorthup depicts the experience of being dehumanized in his account. No one isborn racist, it is simply a habit which is picked up.
Solomon is lured from hishome in Saratoga Springs and drugged by two men he presumes he could trust, Mr.Brown and Mr. Hamilton. These two men are described “gentlemen of respectableappearance”.
Mr. Northup being kidnapped is the first indicator of his loss offreedom. Him being stripped from his beliefs and all he has worked for. Solomonexperiences betrayal first hand when Mr. Brown and Mr.
Hamilton helps tocapture him by drugging him against his will. from such a painful trance, it was some time before Icould collect my thoughts. Where am I? what was the meaning of these chains?Where were brown and Hamilton?..
. Then did the idea begin to break upon mymind, at first dim and confused that I had been kidnapped. (Northup, 22) There is an obviousdifficulty in comprehending how one could be so evil as to fake a friendshipand then use it of a means of betrayal.
Mr. Brown and Mr. Hamilton bothsymbolize the kind of fraud necessary to keep slavery intact and the corruptionof the white race in that time. In today’s society racism continues to be anongoing issue. When black people try to inform concerning prejudice they’veencountered, they are regularly ignored or looked down upon for stating areality in their lives. Today’s society is filled with narrow minded people whorefuse to see past their “color-blindness”, they refuse to see that systemicracism is a part of our society and instead think of it as simply stating anopinion. A few years ago, I was checking into a hotel with a Blackmale colleague.
When he asked the white man behind the counter for our rooms,the clerk ignored him and spoke to me. I was stunned. That evening, in talkingabout the incident, my colleague was surprised that I was surprised; he assumedthat I knew that such treatment was routine for him.
As I began to notice thedifferent ways we were treated in ordinary situations, I realized howfrequently he, and other colleagues of color, were treated as if they wereinvisible while I was noticed and treated with respect. (Adams, 2) Racism and slavery stillexists in our society today though it is invisible to the naked eye. Many haveand still do experience racism and may not understand how or why it is stillalive. Recent news has beenbrought to life of slave trades in Libya, which means there is a hundredpercent chance of it happening elsewhere else. ‘Racism is in fact built intothe foundation of U.S. society and that it has over time come to infuse allaspects of it.
It is present in our laws, our politics, our economy; in oursocial institutions; and in how we think and act, whether consciously orsubconsciously. It’s all around us and inside of us.’ quotes Lisa Nicki. There willbe no change in this matter unless people recognize the faults in our societytoday. “- the Black man is followed in stores, quoted a higher price by a car salesman,patronized by job counselors about being lazy, and told that vacant apartmentsare not available — as if they had no idea that racism is alive and well.”(Adams, 1) It is always easier to ignore certain issues instead of addressingthem head on. The Color Purple is a novel of freedom, Celie the main heroine in thenovel is a fourteen-year-old girl who is repeatedly raped and abused by herstep-father Alphonso. He at that point marries her off to Mr.
_____ a man twiceher age, without her consent. Also, similarly to Mr. Northup she encounters herloss of freedom when she is not permitted to settle on her own choices sinceher dad decides for her. There was much racism and abuse amid that time,particularly for black women.
They were beaten and manhandled essentially inlight of their skin color and sexual orientation. Celie, a youthful blackwoman, who experiences numerous hardships in the of light of that time periodincluding prejudice, abuse, and sexism yet she stays solid in her confidence inGod and is able to overcome these obstructions and yet demonstrates thepeaceful quality of a woman. The persecution of black women is extremelyobvious in The Color Purple, this isdemonstrated through the relationship between Celie and her Father Alphonso.Alphonso rapes and beats Celie for years and manages to get her pregnant twice.
“I say God took it. He took it while I was sleeping. Kill it out there in thewoods. Kill this one too if he can.
” (Walker 12) he kills the first child inthe woods and sell the other to a family in town. Though unfortunately, it isnot until later on in the novel where Celie learns that both babies belong toher step father Alphonso and that her biological father has been lynched.Learning the news impacts Celie’s life drastically and this prevents her fromtrusting men for most of her life. “Young Celie knows only beatings and sexualcoldness before Shug arrives to teach her how to love.” (Abrams, 29) Celiefaces many struggles for a large portion of her life, she was not taught therights and wrongs. Celie’s younger sister Nettie is the root of her freedom,she adores her sister and when she is taken away from her; Celie is lost. Shequestions why life is the way it is and if it gets better.
Shug, a female whois introduced later on in the novel and is told to be Albert’s mistress. Shehelps Celie in figuring out who she is as a woman and helps her feel beautifulin her own skin. She also teaches Celie to stand up for herself and not allowanyone to walk over her. “God is inside you and inside everything else.
Youcome into the world with God. But only them that search for it inside find it.”(Walker, 177) For the majority of the novel, Celie struggles with findingherself because of the constant brutal treatment she endures. With God she isable to grow as a character and believe that she does deserve a better life.Celie changes for the betterment of herself and for God. In the hands of the oppressor, freedom is somethingearned not given. Alphonso abuses Celie for a very long time and this destroysher. When one is abused this excessively, they will believe that they areworthless and not try to stand up for themselves.
For most of her life, Celiebelieves what her stepfather thinks about her. When she is married off to Albert,she is given the same treatment as Alphonso gives her. Celie’s marriage toAlbert is the finish of one episode of harsh savagery from her stepfather, buthowever the start of another with of her new spouse, a widower who mishandlesCelie verbally, sexually and physically in any capacity he wishes. Sheexperiences forced sexual intercourse, which makes her think about her body assomething over which she has no control. “Most times I pretend I ain’t there.He never know the difference. Never ast me how I feel nothing.
Just do his business,get off, go to sleep. Shug say, why Miss Celie, you make it sound like he is goingto the toilet on you. That what I feel like I say (Walker, 79). being forcedinto sexual acts against her will, Celie is also experiencing a loss offreedom.
Once again not being able to stand up for herself while she is pushedaround by her husband. Many relationships in this time period was unhealthy dueto the male dominance, women often fell submissive and allowed it to happenbecause they have no other choice. Celie is disrespected multiple times but isscared to do anything about it.
The relationships between males and females are important in TheColor Purple andinsome other works by Alice Walker Conflicts occur over the traditional malequalities of power, dominance, and control and the female traits of submission,obedience, and servitude. (Abrams, 29)Black women of thistime period were treated with disrespect. similarly, to Celie, Eliza and Sofiaboth experience racism when they both become nannies for two white families. Elizawas the slave of Elisha Berry a rich man who impregnates her and chooses to lether stay with him and raise their child together. Though when he becomesdeceased, she is sent off to a slave plantation where her children becomeseparated.
Sofia on the other hand stays with a family close to her town andexperiences a lot of mistreatment. Unfortunately, in the end they are bothneglected and end up in the back. They suffer from constant abuse and mistreatment”Wives is like Children,” he says, “You have to let ’em know whogot the upper hand. Nothing can do that better than a sound beating” (Walker,42). Abuse is just as much of a learnt behavior as racism.
Domestic abuse was aprominent issue and continues to be today. The encouragement from fathers tosons that abusing their wife is a tolerable action is not ok, and sadly thiswas the case in many relationships during this time. Slave narrative are known to providefirsthand information about slavery. In writing, slaves would hope of sheddingsome light on the cruelty they endure and the inhuman aspects of slavery. Inthe household where the slave master and slave relationships are viewed, theslave is a living property of the master.
It will also look to recognize theidea of sexual connections amongst slave masters and their slaves. Racism anddomestic abuse are closely tied when we speak of the sexual relationshipsbetween slave masters and the female slaves. Slaves were viewed as animals andendure a great deal of pain. They experience domestic violence and abuse ontheir plantation on a daily basis. Women are raped continuously and manhandledwith no hope of ever leaving. Men were also raped by slave masters and forcedto have sexual intercourse with other female slaves in hopes of reproducing, sothe master can sell the babies to other slave masters.
Though, despite thisfact, there were consensual sexual experience amongst masters and female slavesand even long haul sentimental relationships, for example the relationshipbetween Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings, is known to exist. But some peoplesee these relationships as a means of power. In the novel 12 years a slave, upon arrival at a new slave plantation, Solomonis introduced to the other slaves. Patsey among the slaves is the most fearlessyet she was abused the most. yetPatsey wept oftener, and suffered more, than any of her companions. She hadbeen literally excoriated…because it had fallen to her lot to be the slave of alicentious master and a jealous mistress.
She shrunk before the lustful eyes ofone, and was in danger even of her life at the hands of the other, and betweenthe two, she was indeed accursed. (Northup, 166)Patsey is treatedlike a complete animal between both slave owners. She is raped and hated forbeing raped like the has the choice to say yes or no. Patsey loses herpersonal, mental and physical freedom at the hands of Epps and mistress Epps.She is maliciously mangled and intertwined and thrown away like garbage. Themost challenging part of her situation would be the psychological issues sheexperiences after each trauma, hoping it is the last time she has to experiencethat kind of abuse. Initially maltreatment of this sort may lead one to takingtheir own lives.
Leading form this issue the second most unfortunate anddisturbing issue. The non-recognition for the slaves who work hard twenty fourhours per day.Whatis different is the amount of work it takes to reach a comparable level ofsuccess. People of color often have the sense that they have to do “twiceas much to go half as far.” A colleague once said to me, “I feel likeI have to be twice as good as to accomplish anything as a Black man, and evenif I’m in a strong position, I know that some whites will not see mystrengths.
” In addition, work is made harder simply by the dailyexperience of subtle and overt racism. (Abrams, 5) In todays societyjust as it were in the slave times, credit is not always fully given to blackpeople. Many argue that they feel as if they do not accomplish anything becausethey are not given credit for all their hard work. Fifty eight percent ofprisoners are black males, some of them not deserving of their imprisonment. Itis a constant struggle for the black male to strive and excel in his fullpotential if he is constantly stereotyped not given the same privileges as thewhite males and females. ‘Chronic emotional stress is knownto have negative physical and mental health effects.
Racism and racialdiscrimination create a unique environment of pervasive, additional stress forpeople of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States.2 These repeatedtraumatic interactions can result in reduced self-esteem and internalizedhatred as they’re forced into conservative and apologetic thinking.’ Quotes MichaelCompton in his article about determinants of mental health. Things have changeda great deal since the time period of slavery, and seeing as technology is so advancedwe are able to understand a lot more about mental health and how it affects us.Unfortunately, for Solomon, Patsey and Celie racism and abuse were something theywere forced to endure. Patsey experiences many different forms of trauma and yetshe still stays strong. Celie experiences many hardships through her life journeybut the hope that God will one day save her was the only thing that helps her getpast her obstructions. “I couldn’tunderstand why us have life at all if all it can do is make you feel bad”(Walker, 246) Although Celie questions her existence multiple times, she eventuallybuilds up enough courage to kill her husband and escape from his ‘prison’.
Reunitingwith her sister in the end is her salvation.