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The Contribution of Slave Narratives to American Identity

In: English and Literature

Submitted By kabbrat
Words 633
Pages 3
Kelsey Abbrat
17 April 2014
The Contribution of Slave Narratives to American Identity Literature as a whole has contributed to the totality that constitutes American identity. It is a powerful tool because of its ability to create conceptions that shape the thoughts and ideas of its readers. It gives glimpses into history by the experiences of its characters; the power of suggestion and information implants ideas into the minds of those who care to explore its pages. From the literature of Native Americans to that of modern day authors, each category has developed a different facet of the definition of an American, and each is needed in its own unique way. The same is true of the writings of those who were forced into slavery in America, who came against their will and suffered under horrific circumstances. Their stories expand the definition of an American into broader territories and reveal the difficult journey that many faced as they endeavored to find their place in a country that championed liberty yet enslaved them. Writers like Harriet Jacobs helped jump-start a new genre in American literature that came to be known as the North American slave narrative which greatly contributed to the defining of American identity. The North American slave narrative was unique in that its authors went to great lengths to present their own personal narrative of their experiences while remaining in the confines of the genre expectations. The goal of these narratives was of course to end slavery; ironically, to accomplish this goal, the authors of these narratives had to go back to the world that enslaved them, describing their encounters and providing details into the lives of slaves that most would never know otherwise. Harriet Jacobs, the first known African American woman to write a slave narrative, wrote on this subject, “It has been painful to me, in many ways, to...

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