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Oppression and Freedom

Jacobs and Macdonald’s novels highlight the sufferings and miseries that individuals are forced to face in the society. Jacob’s points out the degrading conditions in which African-American slaves were exposed to. She asserts how slave girls are sexually abused by the white men masters leading to many births. In addition, she also points out the need for freedom among these individuals and the end of slavery (Jacobs and Child 30). She explains the tribulations of slave girls and the sufferings that they had to face daily. Macdonald’s, on the other hand, explains the sufferings that his family members were exposed to in the Southies (MacDonald 55). He has explained how drugs, poverty, racial discrimination, and deaths inflicted his life hence leading to sufferings.

Harriet Jacobs and Patrick Macdonald hold similar perceptions on the issue of freedom. Both of them had been subjected to sufferings pertaining to racial discrimination and poverty. They both perceive freedom as having the opportunity to lead a life that is free from oppression and suffering. Jacobs and Macdonald perceive freedom as the ability for an individual to be free from the suffering that they are subjected to. An individual should be able to lead a life that is free from the command of undesirable elements in order to be perceived as enjoying freedom according to the two writers. For instance, Macdonald’s asserts that the residents from Southie could only be free in case they overcame what was happening in the neighborhood (Ashley and Contento 77). There were undesirable happenings in the neighborhood that immensely affected the residents of Southie. Drugs, abuse, suicide, racial oppression, and poverty were some of the sufferings that the residents of Southie had been exposed to and could only be perceived to be free in case they overcame all these. Jacobs holds a similar opinion to Macdonald’s perception on what freedom is. She asserts that only those slaves who learnt how to read and write could escape from the bondage of slavery and other sufferings, such as poverty. This means that true freedom for such individuals means to be free from sexual harassment and other demeaning treatment from the white men (Winter 45). Both writers consider freedom as the ability for an individual to lead a life that is free from negative influences that degrade life and enhance misery.

Their experiences of freedom and sufferings are different. Macdonald’s experiences sufferings relating to drug abuse, suicide, crime, racial discrimination, and murder. These experiences emanate from Southie’s neighborhood and they immensely affect the family. Macdonald’s family members die due to these various influences that are derived from the neighborhood hence depicting his sufferings. Macdonald’s grew up experiencing deaths of his family members, violence, and sadness at each particular instance. He was a young man who never experienced peace in his family due to the constant conflicts that were taking place. For instance, he asserts that each day he had to wake up and face an abusive father (Shepard 80). Strained family relations and other sufferings inflicted pain in his heart and he could not lead a free life. He was in tears each day of his life hence immense sufferings. His freedom comes, when he becomes an activist and is able to reach out to other parties facing similar problems. He is able to encourage them. On the other hand, Jacobs faced sufferings principally relating to slavery. She uses pseudonym character Linda to describe how she was treated as a slave girl. She asserts that Dr. Flint had told her that she was made for his use, and she had to obey his orders. This is to indicate how the white men were abusing female slaves. To emphasize her sufferings she reports that it was worse for one to be a female slave (Bayor 89). This shows how the ruthless white men put women slaves to suffering and misery. Her freedom comes after the escape from slavery and having the ability to take care of her family without interference.

Both of these authors faced equal oppressions. None of them was more oppressed compared to the other. They both had to face tough situations in their lives each day they woke up. For instance, Macdonald always had to witness deaths, poverty, racial discrimination, and strained family relations. He had to live under an abusive father when he was a little boy. In fact, he became an activist, but still had to face sufferings in his life, he could not reach out to several individuals encountering similar sufferings in their lives. He asserts that he achieved his dream of becoming an activist, but could not help in other peoples’ sufferings due to abject poverty (Saltzman and Rosenberg 101). Each day in his life was full of tears as he was subjected to events that he perceived as extremely undesirable. At one instance, he points out that he had to see a man’s tears clearing the blood that had filled his face. This explains the extreme conditions of sufferings that he and his family had been subjected to. Similarly, Jacobs faces extreme sufferings and oppression as a slave. She is expected to bow to all demands of the white man as a slave. Apart from working as a slave, she is sexually and racially discriminated (H. Jacobs 67). She finds no peace living as a slave in the white man’s hands. She asserts that white men are probably the hardest masters to deal with. This explains the extreme sufferings that she faces as a slave and the cruel nature in which they were treated. They also experience equal levels of freedom in their lives (Crawford 76). Both authors do not achieve full freedom as they are limited by poverty in their lives. They do not have the opportunity to enjoy full freedom because of the limitations they face later in their lives. .

The authors do not consider themselves to be really free, as they still have to face harsh conditions in the course of their lives. Their lives are still full of misery in whatever they do making them not to enjoy that little freedom which they thought that had achieved. For instance, despite the fact that Macdonald’s had achieved some level of freedom he still had to experience deaths and racial discrimination. Family squabbles did not end as he had expected and as he is living a life full of sufferings. There is no place to turn to due to the immense poverty that he is subjected to. The poverty limits the enjoyment of his freedom in liberating other individuals from Southies from the high crimes and deaths that they were facing (Ernest 33). In addition, there is still a high level of individuals who were drug addicts and not willing to change at any particular instance hence heightening the levels of sufferings. He asserts that his life was always frightening due to the excessive levels of sufferings that he was encountering. He did not have the opportunity to realize full freedom due to the inability to move to a higher social class that would have even aided him in defending other individuals which were facing similar hard conditions in their lives. Jacobs does not consider herself to be absolutely free, because of the abject poverty she had to live with even after a successful escape. She discloses that most of the women had been forced into sex by the white men hence leading to the birth of many children. She points out that most of the African-Americans could not lead a life with a true level of freedom, because of the abject poverty that they were forced to live in. Ex-slaves are still forced to content with the high levels of poverty in order to make their ends meet as they cater for their children (Lehr and O'Neill 78). They were also perceived by their fellow Africans to have committed offences that made them lose the capacity to get married again.

Their perceptions relating to freedom do not change in the course of their narrations. They hold the same views relating to what freedom should be like. They believe that freedom would only be seen in cases where an individual leads a life that is free from daily sufferings and tears (Lee and Casey 112). According to both writers, freedom can only be defined as an individual’s ability to lead a life that is free from the interference of undesirable external forces, such as sex and racial discrimination. Freedom is a situation where an individual is free from tears and unnecessary deaths among individuals. They hold the same view relating to freedom in the sense that they maintain a particular position on what freedom is. They do not change their stands on matters pertaining to what freedom should be in society. Both authors hold the same position relating to freedom because they have to sustain their fight towards this true freedom in which they believed (Fisch 110).

In conclusion, both Jacobs` and Macdonald’s novels highlight the sufferings and miseries that individuals are forced to face in the society. Jacob’s points out the degrading conditions in which African-American slaves were exposed to (Garfield and Zafar 26). She explains the tribulations of slave girls and the sufferings that they had to face daily. Macdonald’s, on his hand, explains the sufferings that his family members were exposed to in the Southies. He explains how drugs, poverty, racial discrimination, and deaths inflicted his life hence leading to sufferings (Hopkins and Cummings, 98).