Death or Slavery Research Paper

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Toni Morrsion Beloved

Is murder a better alternative than slavery for your children

Toni Morrison's novel "Beloved" presents readers with a terrifying account involving a mother having to choose whether to have her children become slaves or whether to have them dead. Torn between these two options, the central character in the novel, Sethe, makes a hasty choice and decides to kill her own daughter. The protagonist is obviously tormented by her past and it somewhat seems natural for her to take this decision when considering the suffering she must have experienced while being a slave. It would be wrong to consider rational thinking given the circumstances, as Sethe could not possibly take on an objective attitude. The main argument in this paper will focus on emphasizing the contrast between being killed and living life in slavery.

Surely, it would be absurd for anyone to consider the thesis of this essay from a rational point-of-view, as only someone who is actually in a position like Sethe's would be able to understand what it actually feels like to experience such thoughts. Her thinking was clouded by her past and considering her choice, it seems clear that she went through horrific events during her time as a slave.

When considering matters from a rational perspective, I believe that slavery is the better option in this case. As cruel and unjust as it was, slavery provided individuals with the chance to actually experience life and to live through events that most people consider essential during their lifetime. The general notion of slavery can even be applied in the case of people living in the contemporary society. Most people today practically sell their time with the purpose of achieving their goals. Going to work and staying there for several hours in order to have access to basic necessities and a little more can be considered relatively similar to a much broader notion of slavery.

While associating slavery with modern-day job conditions might seem absurd, it would be safe to say that the horrible conditions that most slaves lived in during the slavery era were a better option than death. People living today cannot possibly understand what it was like for these individuals to live through that suffering. However, the simple fact that those respective individuals struggled to stay alive and that they used the slightest drop of energy they had in order to avoid defeat proves that life is the better option to almost anything.

To a certain degree, one can consider Sethe's choice as being self-centered. She did not provide her daughter with the chance to choose and she likely did not want to go through the suffering of knowing that her children are being taken away and forced to go through experiences similar to the ones that she endured for much of her life.

Harriet Ann Jacobs' slave narrative "Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl" contributes to shaping one's perception of slavery and the difference of being a slave and being dead. Similar to Sethe, the central character in Harriet's text is well-acquainted with what it means to be a slave. She is hesitant about letting her child go through the same experiences that she underwent as a slave. "The bright eyes grew dull, and the little feet and hands were so icy cold that I thought death had already touched them. I had prayed for his death, but never so earnestly as I now prayed for his life; and my prayer was heard." (Jacobs) This makes it possible for one to understand the different perspectives that Jacobs and Sethe had. It would certainly be wrong to consider that Sethe was weak at the time when she decided to take her own child's life. She was pressured by the circumstances and she could not possibly think clearly. Jacobs' account can actually reinforce Sethe's decision, as it too demonstrates the pains that a mother goes through when thinking that it is very likely for her child to become a slave.

In order to gain a more complex understanding of what it meant to be a slave, someone would have to consider accounts coming from several sources. The majority of slaves suffered greatly throughout their lives. Even the ones who…[continue]

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