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Antoine emphasizes Laïsa's humanity, a humanity often violated or repressed because of her own helplessness in the institution of slavery. She retains no control over her body or her life's course. He has the wounded man carried to his hut, and instructs his doctor to attend to him. For example, just after she has been purchased, a tearful and frightened Laïsa unexpectedly encounters her brother Jacques Chambo from whom she had been separated and excitedly embraces him. Meanwhile, Georges is covered with wounds; he can barely hold himself up. Now, how is it that Georges was saved by the same man who had just accused him of treachery? A few days before Georges was recovered, Alfred summoned Zelia to his chamber. Already he draws her toward the adulterous bed; already.
Louisiana, like Cuba, also experienced the "same cycle of expansion and intensification of slavery after 1800 which had occurred in Saint-Domingue between 17," and many planters, refugees, and free persons of color (many of who had migrated to Cuba first) found Louisiana a "politically desirable point of relocation . "The Mulatto" features a frame narrator, a white man who functions as a sympathetic and tolerant sounding board to whom Antoine, an old man still presumably a slave and the story's embedded narrator, freely recounts a harrowing narrative of his friend Georges, a mulatto slave whose master is also his biological father.3 It is Georges's master-father, Alfred, against whom Georges directs retributive justice, killing him for allowing Georges's wife to be put to death for spurning Alfred's sexual advances. The reunion of brother and sister, both orphans, and the sentiments connected with it are short lived when a cruel overseer lashes Jacques, forcefully separating him from Laïsa. As he ran off, Alfred heard the sound of a gun, and the clash of steel; blushing at his own cowardice, he awoke his valet de chambre and flew to the aid of his liberator. Then, attending to nothing but his criminal desires, he threw his arms around her and planted a burning kiss on her face. Slaves evinced their humanity when they exhibited genuine emotions before their white oppressors, but white slaveholders who regarded their slaves as commodities, viewed such displays of feeling as subversive—a form of rebellion. To see them thus, pale and blood-spattered, silent and full of desperation, one must imagine three phantoms throwing themselves against each other, tearing themselves to pieces, in the depths of a grave. Ah, I've forgotten to tell you that Georges had a wife, by the name Zelia, whom he loved with every fiber of his being; she was a mulatto about eighteen or twenty years old, standing very straight and tall, with black hair and a gaze full of tenderness and love. The young slave begged, pleaded, resisted; but all in vain. In his encounter with this white man, Antoine's effectiveness as a functional mouthpiece and as a credible and reliable character is not diminished by such annoyances as dialect and and humiliatingly submissive behavior in his encounter with this white man, especially for today's readers who are knowledgeable of black portraiture in nineteenth-century American white-authored texts such as John Pendleton Kennedy's (1835), and Joel Chandler Harris's Uncle Remus tales. For how many times has seen the dreams of his youth destroyed? Zelia recounted for him everything that had happened. "'Charles, 'one said to the other: 'is it true that the mulatto woman who wanted to kill her master is to be hung tomorrow? "Does it surprise you to hear two children, at ten years of age, conversing so gayly on the death of another? They don't weep for them, for they're rich, and tomorrow they'll buy others.. Antoine preserves his dignity, consequently escaping reduction to a stereotype. Yes, he's a most unhappy being, who hasn't even the consolation of always being virtuous. How many times has experience taught him that his good deeds count for nothing, and that he should love neither his wife nor his son; for one day the former will be seduced by the master, and his own flesh and blood will be sold and transported away despite his despair. Shall he smash his skull against the paving stones? Or do you believe the human heart can find a way to bear such misfortune? He didn't want to believe it, but soon he was convinced of his misfortune; for some men entered his hut and tied up his wife while she stood sobbing. This is, perhaps, an inevitable consequence of their education. After shaking hands with the white man, who treats him with dignity, Antoine receives a reaffirmation, an invitation to voice his stark, bitter recollections of the dehumanizing effects of slavery. ""You'd have to be mad to believe that," he continued, heatedly. and, from the day he shakes off his servility, the master would do better to have a starving tiger raging beside him than to meet that man face to face." (354) Antoine's sobering revelation foreshadows the story of Georges, his mother, his wife, his master Alfred, and his master's wife, establishing a credible basis for the traumas both of slaves who have experienced the victimization and abuses of bondage, and of white masters depraved by unchecked power. From their earliest days, they have heard it ceaselessly repeated, that we were born to serve them, that we were created to attend to their whims, and that they need have no more or less consideration for us than for a dog.
Antoine's monologue begins with an undiluted tirade precipitated by his thoughts of the story he is about to tell of the ill-fated Georges and his master-father: "But you know, do you not, that a negro's as vile as a dog; society rejects him; men detest him; the laws curse him. "If he continues to live it can only be for vengeance; for soon he shall rise. (1847), construct a portrait of slave emotion expressed within and constrained by a system of power and family separation similar to the system depicted by Séjour earlier in "The Mulatto" (described above). At this sight, Zelia began to tear her hair in despair, crying tears of rage; for she understood perfectly, the unhappy girl, that death was her fate for having drawn the blood of a being so vile.
As a result, Georges experiences intense remorse, the result of being denied the identity of his own father, an identity his dying mother Laïsa refuses to disclose to him. The dagger, faithful to the hand that guides it, works its way into the enemy's breast.
After Laïsa's death, Georges, like his mother and her brother Jacques, is, in a figurative sense, an orphan.
Both black slave women and men such as Séjour's Laïsa and Jacques become constructs of the white slave-holding patriarchy, which, in enslaving them, Hortense J. (67)Blank Family Record: Before the War and Since the War, ca. Chromolithograph by Krebs Lithographing Company, Cincinnati, Ohio. But, unfortunately for him, she was not one of these women who sell their favors or use them to pay tribute to their master.
Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, loc.gov/pictures/item/91721220. She repelled Alfred's propositions with humble dignity; for she never forgot that this was a master speaking to a slave. —him, the despot, the Bey, the Sultan of the Antilles, being spurned by a slave .
This essay examines Victor Séjour's "The Mulatto" (1837), a short story acknowledged as the first fictional work by an African American.