ERIC Number: ED367560
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1993-Feb-26
Reference Count: N/A
The Slave Narrative: An Image of Excellence.
Malden, Cynthia L.
Through the narratives of North American slaves a vivid picture of their lives, struggles, hopes, and aspirations emerges. The slave narrative arose as a response to, and a refutation of, claims that blacks could not write. Slave writings were often direct extensions of speech. Through a process of imitation and repetition, the black slave's narrative came to be a communal utterance rather than merely an individual's autobiography. The narrators went to great trouble in learning to read and write. Some whites taught the slaves, some unwittingly, some for their own benefit, and some out of a sense of Christian duty. Blacks who learned to read and write, and the people who taught them, faced stiff punishment. Some slaves were whipped, others killed. The most common penalty was amputation. The hardships of life as a slave made learning nearly impossible. Literacy for the slaves was a means of empowerment, a necessary foundation for cultural action for freedom, and a means of developing critical thinking skills. For the slave narrators, writing was also a vehicle for expressing self-identity, as well as a political demonstration of resistance. Literacy was the key to spiritual, mental, and in some cases, physical freedom. (SG)
Publication Type: Historical Materials; Reports - Descriptive; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Slave Narratives
Note: Paper presented at the Southeastern Conference on English in the Two-Year College (Chattanooga, TN, February 26, 1993).