During the early centuries, black Americans did face enslavement. The enslaved people were deprived of their fundamental rights and freedom. The African Americans did not enjoy their lives, from birth till death and even beyond to some. They were forced to work on large plantations and under brutal conditions. The laborers were both minor and older adults, no matter their health conditions.
The lives of enslaved people from birth to death was full of subjects to strict racial discrimination and harsh conditions. The work on plantations was by force, and only a few were privileged to work as house servants. The house servants did receive cruel treatments and were subject to cooking, cleaning, and taking care of the newborns. Harriet, in the Slave girl, was entitled to taking care of newborns of her master, among other duties. The house servants lived in servant quarters which were too tiny and overpopulated (Temple Herndon, The narrative).
The enslaved people were on watch on every one of their moves. When working no breaks were allowed or even communication with the colleagues. The working hours were very inflexible, and the masters were so wicked. The enslaved people did receive repressions from time to time (Harriet, Slave girl). Being confined, even your children have no rights. The children were also subjected to slavery and sold from one master to another such Ellen and Benny (Harriet,Slave girl). The children, even at a younger age, were given duties such as looking after the master’s babies. When Ellen is sold to Mr. Sands by Dr.Flint as a result of vengeance when her mother goes to hiding, she is fled to Boston to take care of Mr. Sands family (Jacobs,2009).
There was using corporal punishment for minor mistakes. The enslaved people did receive punishment even when innocent. Other sanctions were employed such as mutilation and death, especially when the slaves were trying to hide or violate against their masters.
The stories from the excerpts help the public, as well as the antislavery movement, understand the pain behind slavery. Born into slavery exposes you to cruelty and negligence. When Linda’s parents died, she is sent to live with a relative who is s wicked. She received neglect of parental care and sexual harassment. The black women face lots of sexual abuse and are powerless to reist.Dr.Flint, who is supposed to be the father figure sexually abuses Linda. For several years she is in a sexual relationship with Dr.Flint who occasionally threatens her, but one-day Mr. Sands saves her (Harrier, Slave girl).
The black woman has no standards of morality. Linda tells Mr. Sands that she is powerless, and acting against Dr.Flint would only create more troubles. Linda consents to have a relationship with Mr. Sand who is their white neighbor in hoping that Dr.Flint would become angry and sell her (Harriet, Slave girl). Temple Herndon is born in slavery and grows harsh facing conditions but cannot resist as she fears death. Temple Herndon accepts the situation, and at the age of 31 years, Herndon surrenders to the slaves’ masters as hiding put her life in danger. She even gets married and continues working in plantations as no other way to survive (Temple Herndon, The narrative).
The slaves have a price as a commodity. It is so demeaning to give estimates to people just like the goods and services in the market. The price factors include age, gender, health status, and as per the demand in the market. Men did have a higher value as their labor was much needed in farming as compared to women, thus having a more excellent dollar value. The dollar value did appraise as per market need; hence the human life was equated to a monetary value (The price for Their Pound of Flesh).
There is vengeance. When Dr.Flint discovers Linda and Mr.Sands affair, he sells the kids to a slave master. A black woman has no ownership to her children and cannot protect them. The children get harassed and receive poor life conditions such as working as house servants at a tender age, Ellen (Harriet, Slave girl). The workers in plantations do revenge from the harsh conditions by destroying the crops (Temple Herndon, The narrative).
The black woman has no freedom. Linda runs away hoping to protect the kids but even after some years Emily who is Dr.Flint daughter claims ownership to her (Harriet, slave girl)
Racial prejudice is extensive, and the black woman cannot hide from it. Temple Herndon tries to escape but not succeed as the discrimination is all over (Jacobs,2018).
The black woman fears the kidnapping from those involved in the trade of slaves. Linda goes into hiding, hoping that kids will be safe from abduction. Linda cannot come into light from the grandmother’s house as she fears abduction (Harriet, Slave girl). Even after escaping to Boston, she faces the fear of re-enslavement when Emily raises the issue of her own. The passing of the Fugitive slave act exposes slaves to re-enslavement. The slaves fear to have a high monetary value which presents them to high market demand. The masters sell them when their value is high, especially men (The price for Their Pound of Flesh).
The slaves fear death, so they submit fully to their masters. Even when harassed, they could not fight back as no freedom. The separation from their families, Temple Herndon, surrenders in fear of separation from her family. The fear of what will happen to their families, especially their children. The fear of being killed and dead body used as cadavers in medical schools for learning (Harris,2016)
In the story of ‘’The Price for Their Pound of Flesh” explains the value of enslaved women. The market factors which determined the amount ranging from 30-1200 dollars depended on; health condition, age, and demand in the market. The value did appreciate when laborers become short in need. The enslaved woman was receiving an amount significant to the work conditions and the master’s terms. The women did value their children and families, so we’re ready to protect them even though it did risk their lives.
Freedom was essential to them but could not available. So, the women were submitting in the hope that one day gaining independence (Berry,2018).
The black woman developed some tactics of fighting slavery. Consenting; the faking of agreeing to something partially as a way of blackmailing the master. Linda decides to a relationship with Mr. Sands hoping to escape and free the kids from slavery (Harriet, Slave girl). Temple Herndon surrenders into the authority of slaves but works towards achieving freedom. At the age of 103, she gets freedom and can work in the plantation of her own.
Everyday acts, black women protesting or going into hidings (Harriet, Slave girl) hoping to reduce the harsh working conditions. The black woman was revolting by forming protests occasionally and resist by stealing the master’s food.
Employing the escape tactic was also working. Linda goes into hiding and escapes from South to Boston in the hope of securing suitable employment, and her Boston boss is very kind.
The black woman from the stories in an expert is strong and works towards ensuring a better future. She faces challenges but eventually wins her freedom (Temple Herndon, The Narrative &Harriet, Slave girl). They protect their families and evolve in civil rights in the hope of securing rights and protection by forming the antislavery movement. Everyone deserves the power and freedom to live (Hampton,2016).
- Berry, Daina Ramey. The price for their pound of flesh: The value of the enslaved, from womb to grave, in the building of a nation. Beacon Press, 2017.
- Harris, Alexes. A pound of flesh: Monetary sanctions as punishment for the poor. Russell Sage Foundation, 2016.
- Hampton, Karen. ‘AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN: PLANTATION TEXTILE PRODUCTION FROM 1750 TO 1830.’ (2000).
- Moody, Joycelyn. ‘The Truth of Slave Narratives.’ The Oxford Handbook of the African American Slave Narrative.
- Jacobs, Harriet Ann. Incidents in the life of a slave girl: Written by herself. Vol. 119. Harvard University Press, 2009.
- Jacobs, Harriet. Harriet Jacobs: Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl: New Critical Essays. e-artnow, 2018.