The American Slave Narrative Revisited: Zora Neale Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God

While this blog does not discuss the topic of travel in slave narratives, it brings about an interesting point on slave narratives which should be considered. Not all slave narratives are focused on travel and escape.

Coffee & Literature

Originating as early as 1760 (Campbell), the traditional American slave narrative was characterized by a journey from oppression to freedom, or more acutely, literal travel from the deep Antebellum south to the liberal minded Northern states. However, “…the attainment of freedom is signaled not simply by reaching the free states, but by renaming oneself and dedicating one’s future to antislavery activism,” (Andrews).  Often including a preface to emphasize and affirm authenticity, the narratives pooled nature imagery, biblical allusions and spirituality, as well as severe emotional and physical abuse including but not limited to: lynching, domestic violence, rape and molestation. In their earliest period, slave narratives were written by sympathetic white witnesses, some slave owners, others not and later evolved into personal accounts direct from ex-slaves. Exemplified in Harriet Jacobs’ Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, more clearly than in some of the others, poignant internal struggles and the…

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