DIscussion Questions from Snowed Out Class

1.  Prince and Equiano both suffered greatly under slavery, though the struggles that faced them were different.  I thought that Equiano’s struggles were powerful because the reader is able to see him through his freedom and somewhat success and acceptance from those around him.  Prince, on the other hand, goes through the struggles of slavery and finally gets her story published, but is then met with protest and criticism.  I think these two stories present slavery in two very different lights in that respect.  Equiano is able to buy his freedom and eventually rise above his status as a slave, while Prince constantly seeks a better master to grant her freedom.  By the end of each narrative, I think both Prince and Equiano have found a greater calling in their lives, which make each story more powerful and worthwhile to read.  Equiano finds God and vows to live his life in His footsteps, and Prince is called to use her story to help fellow slaves who still suffer under cruel masters.

2.  While reading both slave narratives, I was surprised by the lack of job separation for female and males slaves.  I would have assumed women worked in household job, such as a cook or servant, while men were strictly made to work more laborious jobs in the fields, but this was not always the case.  I think my assumption that women were given less physically enduring jobs was altered when Prince described a pregnant slave being beaten.  This act of inhumanity showed me that to white slave-owners, blacks were sub-human property, whether male or female.  The blatant disregard for the slaves wellbeing, especially towards a child-bearing woman, displays how little the slave-owners thought of their lives.

3.  One description from Prince’s narrative stood out to me, especially in regards to our theme of consumption.  When Prince describes being sold or traded from master to master, she explains that she felt like she was being passed from one butcher to the next.  This statement stuck with me because it highlights how much white slave-owners treated their slaves like meat.  Once they bought the slave, they used the physical body of the slave to benefit themselves.  For example, owners made slaves work endless hours in fields so the owners could eat or sell what the slaves had produced for them.  So in this respect, slave-owners were literally consuming what the abused slaves gathered for them. 

In a more abstract way, the slave owners also consumed the very life from their slaves through senseless beatings, extreme work conditions, and a total disregard for the standard of life their slaves lived in.     


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