By William Noy Wilkins Mrs, Anon, Gordon Wilkins Kerr, Lise Winer, Bridget Brereton, Rhonda Cobham, Mary Rimmer, Karen Sanchez-Eppler
A dramatic nineteenth-century story, initially released within the newspapers of the day, Adolphus lines the adventures of a mulatto son of a black slave lady raped by means of a white guy.
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Extra info for Adolphus, a Tale (Anonymous) & the Slave Son (The Caribbean Heritage Series)
Douglass’s comments on his parentage thus strive to disrupt racist assumptions that would make his intellect and consciousness appear – like Belfond’s – a white inheritance, the result of being a “slave son”. But these comments also make clear that Douglass knew how white father and black mother mattered to his audience, and suggest that he may well have appealed to Wilkins precisely in these equivocal terms. For Douglass, the source of his difference is fundamentally a question of conditions, and particularly of access to education.
Adolphus, for instance, makes it obvious that parentage, the very concept invoked in its preface, is fraught with contradiction and conflict. To return to the preface after reading the novel is to be struck by that choice of the word “parent”, surely significant in a novel where fatherhood rarely appears in a positive light. The author does go on to speak of “fathers”, but the first choice of “parent” suggests an uneasiness with “father” and its connotations. In The Slave Son, the situation is a little more complicated.
In his Narrative, Douglass similarly cites lack of literacy as the means of “the white man’s power to enslave the black man” and therefore literacy as “the pathway from slavery to freedom” (p. 48). For him, as for Belfond, it is not any particular cruelty, but rather knowledge and the consciousness it brings, that make slavery unbearable: my learning to read had already come, to torment and sting my soul to unutterable anguish. As I writhed under it, I would at times feel that learning to read had been a curse rather than a blessing .
Adolphus, a Tale (Anonymous) & the Slave Son (The Caribbean Heritage Series) by William Noy Wilkins Mrs, Anon, Gordon Wilkins Kerr, Lise Winer, Bridget Brereton, Rhonda Cobham, Mary Rimmer, Karen Sanchez-Eppler