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Chapter 4 - Caste and Class in the Antebellum Slave Narrative

from Part I - Origins and Histories

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  30 September 2021

Joycelyn Moody
Affiliation:
University of Texas, San Antonio
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Summary

The majority of slave narratives published between 1840 and 1865 were produced by persons who came from what might be termed the elite slave minority, that is, from skilled workers, domestic workers, and headmen. Men and women from the relatively higher echelons of slavery contributed double the number of texts to the mid-century slave narrative than were produced by former field laborers, those who spent most of their working life in slavery doing the most grueling and punishing agricultural labor. In this chapter, class refers mainly to two kinds of differences observable in antebellum slave narratives: differences based on access to and/or control of material resources, such as money, property, and compensation for labor; and differences based on access to or control of social power and prestige based on factors such as occupation, wage earning, family status, and literacy.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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