The Effects of Dehumanization On Slaves

Essay by BHH2787High School, 12th gradeA+, March 2005

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Dehumanization played a crucial role in Beloved, slavery and the civil war by demoralizing, degrading and insulting African Americans.

In Beloved, the slaves were dehumanized throughout the story. There were many instances where a slave was demoralized, degraded or abused. There were many instances where one would "get the bit". In chapter seven, Paul D explains how he had the bit in his mouth. "I couldn't... I had a bit in my mouth" (Morrison 69). This is an example of a slave being physically abused. Paul D said this statement when Sethe confronted him about the rape. He was saying how he couldn't speak up because he had the bit in his mouth. It prevented him from talking. He had no way of communicating. In the first amendment of the Constitution, the authors state that all men have the right to freedom of speech. By having a bit in one's mouth, preventing them from speaking, it therefore denies the right of the first amendment.

It is one of society's God-given rights to be able to speak, when Paul D has the bit in his mouth, he is essentially reduced to something less than human. He has been turned into an object. He cannot speak, he cannot be free, he is someone's property; he is an object. Humans were not created to be owned and operated like a machine. In this case, Paul D is, and therefore, is dehumanized. Bestiality was a major depiction of dehumanization in this book. The book graphically explains how men had sex with calves. This was a last resort. The men were not allowed to have sexual intercourse with the women unless they were reproducing, therefore as a result of desperation, they resorted to animals. While the men did have their own choice to have...