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The Slave Family

Most of us would consider it odd to think that the bonds of family can be easily broken. For slaves like Mary Prince, this was not the case. Slavery bound individuals based on ownership rather than emotional and geneological ties.

“When I was an infant, old Mr. Myners died, and there was a division of the slaves and other property among the family.” (pg. 3) The way this is stated, it inferes that family is a word reserved for slave owners only, it does not apply to the slaves.

Families of slaves were separated with little or no regard for familial bonds. “Your master is going to be married, and he means to sell you and two of your sisters to raise money for the wedding.” (pg. 5) Slaves were treated with little regard for their emotional ties, “Did one of the many by-standers, who were looking at us so carelessly, think of the pain that wrung the hearts of the negro woman and her young ones? No, no!” (pg. 7) Mary Prince speaks of how families of slaves are treated no better than common livestock “-and are separated from their mothers, and husbands, and children, and sisters, just as cattle are sold and separated”. (pg. 33)

I can not even imagine having my children torn from me. Many parents today have a difficult enough time letting their grown children go. However, for the slave it was different. “mothers could only weep and mourn over their children, they could not save them”. (pg. 14)

Mary Prince tells of a husband who is a ranger and is forced by his owner to treat other slaves cruelly; including his own family. “it was a horrid thing for a ranger to have sometimes to beat his own wife or sister; but he must do so if ordered by his master.” (pg. 24)

Mary Prince, though separated from her family, finds some small solace in her own marriage for a short time. In order to maintain her freedom, she is not able to return to her husband. “I still live in the hope that God will find a way to give me my liberty, and give me back to my husband.” (pg. 33)

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One thought on “The Slave Family

  1. Bridget, I couldn’t help but think of Clarissa while reading the first paragraph of your post: “Most of us would consider it odd to think that the bonds of family can be easily broken. ” I read this sentence in a different way than I think you intended but saw it as blood is thicker than water kinda way. Most people would like to say that they agree with this statement, however in Clarissa we see that this may not always be the case. Even though Clarissa’s siblings do not have much of a reason (besides greed) for disliking her, we see that they seem to secretly hate her. I hope we can talk more about this in class but I really enjoyed reading your post and thought I’d ramble on thoughts your post lead me to!

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