As part of this week’s assigned reading, I read chapters 3-4 of Elizabeth Keckley’s Behind the Scenes. The third chapter describes how the author achieved independence for herself and her children. It says that she was transferring to New York to enjoy her freedom but promised to return after some time. In Chapter 4, Elizabeth is on her way back to St. Louis, where she was a slave before she purchased her freedom with a loan of around $1200. As a means of repaying the loan, she served for Lady Patron. After paying the loan, she informed Mr. Keckley of her departure from St. Louis to Baltimore and lived with the family of Senator Jefferson Davis in 1860.
The entire story in all the chapters is written in first person indicative of the fact that it is an autobiography. Elizabeth uses figurative language across all sections of the narratives. For instance, she states that “the earth wore a brighter look” which is a metaphor. These two chapters are important in understanding how people in the African American Society acquired their freedom. The main theme identifiable in the story is that of acquisition of Liberty after a long period of suppression. The use of the first person in writing the text is effective means of convincing the readers since the course of events is presented from the author’s experience.
This reading shows the kind of joy one gets on becoming a free person. Slavery is not something to uphold because of the psychological and physical torture victims go through as indicated by the author. Slavery has for long been the focus of many scholars because of the effects it had on the individuals and nations involved. Out of the act, many books such as the “The Book of Negroes” by Lawrence Hill were composed with the same theme. What this means is that slavery has many adverse effects when compared to its benefits. This reveals the need for sensitization about slavery and especially contemporary slavery.
Keckley, Elizabeth. Behind the Scenes, Or, Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Oxford University Press on Demand, 1988.