This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Racial Tensions In New England Essay

2256 words - 10 pages

Historical fiction, generally, exposes readers to a historic event through a new lens—often from a first-person perspective. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, by M.T. Anderson, does a remarkable job illustrating a unique, though fictional, perspective of the revolution in New England through the eyes of an experiment: Octavian Nothing. While written with an adolescent audience in mind, Octavian Nothing offers great insight to the transitional period between racial attitudes in American society for all readers. Through the narrative, readers uncover a raw illustration of the evolution of historical prejudices and tensions in New England—specifically, pertaining to the usages and ...view middle of the document...

In sharp contrast to Equiano, Octavian seems to be quite aware of the other slaves around him—especially after it is made clear that he is, indeed, a slave. Not only does Octavian cling tightly to the comfort of his mother as he chooses not to run away unless she can also come, but Octavian acknowledges the worth of slaves like Bono. Octavian relies quite heavily on Bono as a form of stability and strength, especially after his mother dies. While this discrepancy might be cast as a weakness in the novel as it does not accurately portray slave-to-slave relationships, it is more feasible to consider the exceptionality of Equiano. Equiano was not a typical slave. He held the regard of many white owners as he acquired several letters of recommendation throughout the narrative. Furthermore, Equiano did not have close family to worry about and only seemed to develop relationships with white people on the ships—like the captain. Octavian, it seems, depicts a more typical domestic slave than Equiano. Octavian’s stubbornness and frustration seems to be aligned with the emotions of many of the other slaves Equiano describes.
Equiano addresses the issue of slavery by sharing exemplar atrocities; however, it is the commentary on these stories that yields a relevant depiction of prevalent ideas about slavery during the New England revolution. In observing the harsh conditions of slaves’ lifestyles in Barbados, whose “whole term of…life may be said to be there but sixteen years! And yet the climate here is in every respect the same as that from which they are taken, except in being more wholesome” (Equiano 106), Equiano condemns the treatment of slaves and notes that men work better free than as slaves. The countless encounters Equiano has with violent slave owners, and even “Negroes whose business it is to flog slaves” (Equiano 171), demonstrates the frequency of the events described in Octavian Nothing while under the discretion of traditionally prejudiced whites, like Mr. Sharpe and Lord Cheldthorpe. Anderson seems to draw inspiration for the punishments used on Octavian and his mother from descriptions like those in Equiano’s narrative. In the first instance of Octavian being severely punished, Octavian and his mother are “lashed to the horse-post…exposed…whipping us with rods” to the point where his mother vomits and is “whipped one last stroke” so that “she buckled and fell to her knees” (Anderson 109-110). Clearly, the punishment is not merely a form of chiding for assaulting Lord Cheldthorpe, but an attempt to completely subdue and break any trace of will power. Quite remarkably, through this horrific scene of punishment, readers are still allowed to see the transition from this hierarchical society to a more racially tolerant society. It might be expected that Equiano show sympathy for another slave being beaten, but in Octavian Nothing, Mr. Gitney shows frustration as “Mr. 03-01 liked the whole thing not a it, and frowned” (Anderson 110). While not...

Other Essays Like Racial Tensions In New England

Common Identity as Americans Essay

674 words - 3 pages London based merchants journeying with the goal of acquiring goods, such as exotic crops or precious metals, opening new markets for English products, and reducing unemployment to strengthen England. They founded Jamestown in 1607 and starting having Indian conflicts right away. The unhappy settlers undertook nightmarish conditions and died rapidly because of disease, malnutrition, and starvation. The colonists faced mosquito-infested, unhealthy

Racial Question In ''Othello'' By William Shakespeare

9291 words - 38 pages argued that the plays thus help propagate a neW ideal of 'companionate marriage' in which romance is not anti- thetical to matrimony, but women's ~astity and ,obedience are still crucial. Assertions such as this-'England is a paradise for women, and hell for horses: Italy aparadise for horses, a hell for women'-were double-edged, at ~once confirming English superiority over more rigid cultures, and barely masking an anxiety about female

Belonging; Related Text Young Samurai

1098 words - 5 pages Bradford's book Young Samurai shows differences in society in 1675 Japan. The differences includes religion, language, racial identity, status and tradition. “In order to know your enemy, you must become your enemy.” was said by a Japanese samurai warrior towards to the 'Gaijin Samurai' (Foreigner Samurai) who is the main protagonist in Chris Brandford's Young Samurai. This demonstrate the need to adapt to a whole new different society in order to

Oliver Cromwell vs Charles I

1383 words - 6 pages country around after some of the most devastating events in history. During Charles I reign, 1625-1649, there were increasing tensions in England. Social tensions resulting from a rapidly expanding population, which caused worsening unemployment, poverty and disorder; class-based tensions caused by the increasing affluence of the middle classes or the declining position of the old aristocracy; constitutional tensions between a crown which was

Shadows in the Dark

1033 words - 5 pages during the early twentieth century and was in response to racial tensions and violence. As a biracial child, having a white mother and black father, she was naturally caught in the middle of the black-white schism as she would have grown up fighting against pressures and opinions from both sides of the conflict (“Angelina”). Her background gave her a unique view that allowed her to write precisely about the racial divide. In the poem “Tenebris

The Color Purple

1247 words - 5 pages ESSAY WRITING- THE COLOR PURPLE Discuss the thematic concerns of the novel The feministic and historical fictional novel “The Color Purple” written by Alice Walker focuses on the thematic concerns of the early 20th century. The thematic concerns that Walker discusses are racial tensions, the African experience, feminism and religion. These themes are portrayed through the main characters Celie and Nettie within an epistolary (letter) format

Ap Euro New Monarchs

902 words - 4 pages period and helped form the type of government that is now known as a monarchy, thus they earned the name “new monarchies.” There were several factors that helped these leaders rise. Most of the “new monarchies” that arose during 1450 to 1550 used Europe’s weak political state to rise to power. In England, civil war made the government vulnerable to change, allowing Henry VII to rise to power. While England used war, Spain’s monarchy came to power

African Writing in English

5364 words - 22 pages South Africa, often from the point of view of a white middle-class character. They examine the tensions between white and non-white people forced to live under apartheid, the system of rigid racial segregation formerly in effect in South Africa. Gordimer's novels A World of Strangers (1958), Occasion for Loving (1963), and The Late Bourgeois World (1966) also address these themes. In her books, Gordimer sympathetically presents the position of

Affirmative Action: The Discriminatory Effect

2144 words - 9 pages ultimately prove to be a harmful policy. Affirmative action should be abolished or, at least, dramatically transformed. In its current version, it is not an adequate answer to addressing social tensions or injustices; on the contrary, it creates new problems in the form of racial tensions. This policy is one that is discriminatory to both minorities and whites. It is a repulsive thought to think of the government as an organization that establishes

Victims of Hate Crimes and Racial Prejudice

1227 words - 5 pages and immigration, which reorganizes in order to expand enforcement duties. Have the number of victims of racial profiling increased over the last decade? The number of racial profiling has increased over the last decade. According to Khalid Saeed, a director of American Muslim Voice in Northern California, the federal agencies in their fight of terrorism have used this reason to discriminate and degrade certain groups of people. The government

Twilight 1992

954 words - 4 pages black man. After these three observations, it is clear that not every one of them think the same about police involved in racial prejudice. Salas thinks white are his enemies, Sheinbaum thinks the city is the main enemy and Sanford thinks he is an American and stuffs happen in America. In my view, these people portray so called “American characters” because they each had their own unique perspective on the underlying tensions and problems that

Related Papers

Puritans In New England Essay

561 words - 3 pages Puritans in New England Raised during the aftermath of the fall of the Spanish Armada to England, the Puritan generation they were children and grandchildren of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. An idealistic generation of the Colonial Cycle, the Puritans came to America seeking freedom, to practice religion in a manner different than that of the English. Puritans regarded New England as a place to establish a "visible" kingdom of

Describe The Similarites And Differences In The Founding Of Virgiania And New England Colonies

502 words - 3 pages The two colonies of Virginia and New England were vastly different but not without similarities. While New Englanders came almost purely for religious reasons, Virginians came to make a profit. While New Englanders had a balanced economy, Virginia's economy was based on the exportation of tobacco. But the two colonies were similar in that they were, to a point, self-governing. The Puritans came to settle in the colonies to escape from the

Analysis Of Brock Clarke's, An Arsonist’s Guide To Writer’s Homes In New England

840 words - 4 pages In the 2007 novel” An Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England”, by Brock Clarke, is a story within a story about a man named Sam Pulisifer. Sam as a teenager accidentally torches an American landmark in Amherst, Emily Dickinson’s Home and kills a young couple, Linda and David Coleman, which was up stairs in a bed. After serving ten years in prison for his crime, Sam tries to put his past behind him. He gets his GED, goes to college and

Anti Affirmative Action Essay

657 words - 3 pages high school to be in consideration for admission in Berkeley, most minorities with much lower standards are automatically admitted. All the preferential treatment may provide a basis for employers, employees, as well as real applicable students to fight for an end to Affirmative Action.The development of more racial tensions are yet another part of the Affirmative Action policy. Tensions between blacks and whites and other racial groups at U.S