Roots Essay

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Dougherty is a Ph.D. candidate at Tufts University. In the following essay, she explores Haley's use of the past in Roots.

When discussing Roots, Haley contended that he was "just trying to give his people a myth to live by." If one definition of myth is "a useable version of the past," Haley's saga certainly succeeds in overturning other myths about the Black American experience and giving African Americans a proud history.

Haley's book must be seen, at least in part, as a corrective to prevailing American myths about slavery and about Africa. Some critics have called Roots a counter-narrative to Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind, which depicted happy-go-lucky, childlike slaves with no connection to their Afncan heritage.

Instead, Haley presents a harrowing account of the devastating toll slavery took on American blacks and the cultural strategies they used to endure it, an account which is...

(read more from the Critical Essay #1 section)

This section contains 1,769 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Roots Study Guide
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Roots from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.