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WPA American Slave Narratives: Life As A Slave (Essay Sample)


the student was expected to read "WPA American Slave Narratives: Life As A Slave" and write an essay examining the narratives which explain how the roles of African American men were significantly different from women before the civil war


WPA American Slave Narratives: Life as a Slave
There are different roles of African American slave men and women before the Civil War in America. According to the WPA American Slave Narratives (1936), African slaves experienced the darkest days during their slavery period. Slaves were tone and alienated from their families and sent to work on other plantations since their masters feared that keeping them together would give them the confidence to rebel. They were subjected to do hard labor, mental and physical body degradation, and most of their human rights were completely violated or denied. Those enslaved, both men and women were physically violated without mercy. Regardless of their sex, slaves were considered as the property of their masters and this was the law of the land.
The circumstances for enslavement for both black men and women were different. Most slaves were brought to North America when it was a British colony. During this time, black slaves were disproportionately male because their values for utilization in the fields were high. Because of their physical strength, they could be used as manual laborers in buildings and farm fields. When women were later brought in in the 16th century, they did not take some of the jobs that were done by men. They worked the cotton fields, were used as maids in their master’s house, and provided company for the black male slaves as wives. Female slaves were used to reproducing the slave population as this was cheaper than buying new ones and because in the early 19th-century slave trade was abolished in America. Children of slaves would automatically become the property of their master.
The value in terms of prices for black male slaves in Old South was higher for young and strong slaves. The prices declined with age as a result of their ability to do manual jobs and long-term service. Children did not have much value to the slaves’ masters thus their prices were as low as that of old black slaves.
In a the17th century, there was slave trade depression which added pressure on cotton farming as a result of low labor supply. The slave trade thrived in 1800 especially in the South mainly because of a large amount of labor needed in the cotton farms. Also as the demand for slaves boomed as more cotton lands came under cultivation, especially in Mississippi and Texas. Beside cotton plantations, there were tobacco hemp, corn, and livestock farming in America. These farming fields enslaved men in communities to provide hard labor while providing for their family.
Men were also expected to provide for the family. This role came after the introduction of black female slaves who were majorly meant for the black male company. Female slaves contributed to families in the communities where black slaves were segregated. It was the responsibility of the men to provide for their family. However, from the slave narratives, most men neglected their family duties and ended up being violent with their wife and children and completely neglect their family out of desperation (Hallam, n.d).
Gender roles were convoluted given the kind of labor some slaves were forced to do especially to women. In the Old South plantations, men and women were doing the same work although women at their productive age were given easier works. Those women beyond childbearing age were expected to work as men. This indicated how women slaves were viewed the same as men when they were beyond their productive age. Women were also working as house help and maids for their masters’ house in the plantation. They were subjected to the cruelest conditions of domestic violence and even sexual abuse by their masters. Most white women owned black female maids to take care of their houses and cleaning.
Although women used to work in the farms...
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