The Known World

Essay by joeey29University, Bachelor'sA-, October 2014

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Teddy Gargiulo

English 443

Natasha Barnes

2 April 2014

The Known World Response

Treating people like property is the most damning moral question that slavery provides, and thus, it's deeply explored in the Known World. The most obvious example may lie in the ironic fact that Henry is a black slave-owner, but Jones shows how many of the characters were influenced by this ideology. He shows how it was a dilemma everyone faced- this morality issue tests all the characters ideologies and has a great impact on their well-being. It's interesting to analyze some of the main female characters specifically who developed very distinct responses to the notion of people as property- and for those characters that were slaves- to simply how they were treated, which was not as if they were humans.

Fern may be the most extreme example because of how detrimental this notion was to her psychology but what makes her so interesting is that is she neither a person fully in power or powerless.

She is not literally slave, but some might argue she is a (sexual) slave to her husband. Fern may be free, but she is still black, and the treatment of slaves most likely makes her compartmentalize humans as either property or power. This conceptualization of slavery is most damaging to Fern when it comes to sexual relationships. She allows her husband Ramsey to dominate and humiliate her; one of the most degrading examples includes how Ramsey did not allow her to bathe all day until after he slept with her. Though some might argue that many women at the time, especially wives, served as slaves to their husbands demanding sexual desires, Fern goes beyond even the extremes of typical gender roles for the time period. All women at the time may...