The Correlation Between Reoccurring Themes in African American Literature

In: English and Literature

Submitted By adpoplin
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African American literature is surprising, captivating, and spirited. Once you start reading a story it is easy to get caught up in the tale being told. The descriptive nature of the works makes it easy to relate to them. Throughout my readings thus far in the class I have noticed some common themes that reoccur in many of the stories and poems. Of course slavery was a very common topic but there were others such as inequality between the races and sexes, injustice and resentment, the black identity, and a strong faith and religion. Even though the words can be separated in the end they all come back together.
There were many narratives written by fugitive slaves before the Civil War and by former slaves in the postbellum era. These narratives document slave life from the perspective of first-hand experience. The stories they tell are dark and ugly. The authors like Douglas and Jacobs reveal the struggles, sorrows, aspirations, and triumphs of slaves in absorbingly personal story-telling. Harriet Jacobs’s Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl was the first autobiography by a formerly enslaved African American woman. In it she describes her experience of the sexual exploitation that made slavery especially oppressive for black women. She also recounts her life in slavery in the context of family relationships with her escape and her struggle to free her children. Fredrick Douglas who wrote Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglas, an American Slave, Written by Himself depicts the grim life of slavery as well. He vividly describes the brutality that slaves endured, the meager rations they are allowed for nourishment, and even the murder of a slave. He also hits on the common practice of slave owners raping the enslaved women. Douglas also writes of his escape from slavery and fleeing north. This brutal harsh life was reality for a slave.
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