Harriet Tubman The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton

Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom is a fascinating story about a real-life heroine who rescued many African-Americans from slavery. In her book, Catherine Clinton depicts an amazing woman of strong will and sober mind. Clinton's biography of the woman demonstrates how Harriet Tubman, risking her own life, led a big number of slaves to freedom. This literary piece is a truly immersive and engaging narrative that mainly focuses on the life of Harriet Tubman. Besides, Clinton's book also ponders on the subjects of national politics, the underground railroad, and American history within the period of the Civil War and after it. While many aspects of Harriet Tubman’s life have become forgotten, Clinton's work is an important reminder of exploits of the fearless woman who has become an example of generosity. Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom can be regarded as an inspirational story that exceeds her mythological legacy and in this way motivates readers to perform good deeds. Therefore, Clinton's biography of Tubman is a veracious narrative that depicts the trials and triumphs of Harriet Tubman – one of the strongest and most intelligent women in history of the United States.

 

The theme of freedom can be considered the main theme that is traced through the entire book. For slaves who lived in the South, freedom was an important goal. Like many other African-American people taken into slavery, Harriet Tubman observed her freedom as the primary purpose in her life. In her biographical narrative, Catherine Clinton depicted various situations where the rights of slaves were neglected, and they suffered mistreatment and insults from the white owners. Many African-American slaves were sold and taken away from their parents, wives or husbands, and children. According to Clinton, “Slave parents lived in abject terror of separation from their children. This fear, perhaps more than any other aspect of the institution, revealed the deeply dehumanizing horror of slavery” (10). Searching freedom for these people meant finding a way to prevent them from the bitter pain of loss and separation. Moreover, Clinton used the Biblical references in her descriptions of the North. These references symbolically underline the importance of freedom to African-American people. For instance, in the book, slaves saw the North and Canada as “Canaan” – in the Bible, it is the land that was promised to the Israeli nation (Clinton 123). In both cases, mention of “Canaan” symbolically means a haven – a place where former slaves find their freedom and goodness. Furthermore, Harriet Tubman is referred to as “Moses” that has also a particular connection with the Bible (Clinton 87). In addition to this, regarding the situation in antebellum society, Harriet Tubman was “Moses” for African-American people who, risking her life, led them to freedom.

At the same time, the goal of Clinton's book is to recreate a historically complete and detailed portrayal of Harriet Tubman. Firstly, the author introduces readers to the world of the main heroine of the book, and thus, explains the reasons for Tubman's struggle against slavery. Experiencing all trials of slavery by her own, Tubman dedicated her life to the rescue of African-American slaves. Furthermore, representing social history of slavery in America, as well as the antislavery movement, Clinton emphasizes the heroism of Harriet Tubman, who risked her life in order to save others. The book gives a general overview of poor conditions of slaves who underwent numerous abuses, living along the Eastern shore. In Clinton's literary piece, Harriet Tubman is depicted as a quiet ordinary woman who faced daily challenges of her ordinary life as a slave. Nevertheless, the deeds of this extraordinary woman were extremely meaningful and important, and even hard to believe in. Harriet Tubman courageously looked in the eyes of danger, but she never betrayed her aim to help other African-American slaves in their struggles with injustice. Thus, Harriet Tubman is both a prominent character of Clinton's narrative and a real-life American heroine who did everything possible to free slaves.

Ms. Tubman was a slave from the birth. Named Aramita at her birth in Maryland, the woman would soon change it to the another one. Thus, “Once freed, Araminta decided to take a new first name: Harriet” (Clinton, 42). Although a great part of personal information about Tubman was lost because of her slave status, as well as a fire of 1850s, Catherine Clinton provided a general look at conditions familiar to each slave in Maryland in order to enable the audience to imagine how this prominent woman probably lived in her early years. Being a child, Harriet was wounded by a thrown brick that caused a head injury. The woman was sold to many different households. In many of them, she faced cruel treatment, while in others – kind attitude. In 1844, Harriet married John Tubman, and that marriage can be regarded as a struggle against the indifference to the majority of desires of African-American people, “They engineered love matches and cemented unions with ceremonies. Marriages among slaves could be grand and festive” (Clinton, 26). It should be noted that in 1849, Harriet fled to Philadelphia without her husband because he refused to go with her. Thus, the story of “Moses” of African-American people began – Harriet started to make journeys back to the South in order to help fugitives to get to the safe territory.

After escaping from slavery, Harriet became the worst enemy of the Southern slaveholders. The woman endured numerous hardships, but she persistently went towards her aim, “To best fulfill her destiny, Tubman realized, she must actively seek a role in God's plan, rather than letting others dictate her path” (31). In Canada, Harriet joined John Brown, worked as a nurse during Civil War, and then as a spy. Moreover, Tubman worked as a conductor on the Underground Railroad – an informal, secret series of networks that helped the fugitive slaves to escape to the North. Thus, being engaged in the work of the Underground Railroad, Harriet supported many African-Americans in becoming free; she changed the lives of many slaves for better. At the same time, while there are no written records about the business of the Underground Railroad, Clinton's book becomes a reliable source of the days when this institution saved lives of hundreds of black slaves. In addition to this, Tubman not only obstinately advocated freedom of African-American people, she also championed female suffrage. Therefore, Harriet Tubman is an important person in the struggle of black people against slavery, as well as in the fight for the rights of African-Americans.

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Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom is a thrilling story of female power and bravery. In her book, Clinton represented a detailed biography of the middle and later years of life of a genuine American hero. Catherine Clinton created a vivid image of self-liberated woman who did not break under the pressure of the enemy, but courageously resisted it. In her narrative, Catherine Clinton condemns injustice and exploitation of black people during the times of slavery that has become a painful page in the history of American nation. Painting a comprehensive portrait of the life of American heroine, Clinton provides the audience with the historical perspective of oppressed African-American people. Although there are many digressions in the book, Clinton's narrative can be regarded as a reliable evidence of the real life of Harriet Tubman – “Moses” of black people, rescuer of African-American slaves, and a woman who gave hope to others.