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Roots Historical Context

This Study Guide consists of approximately 125 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Roots.
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Historical Context

American Slavery

Haley began writing his novels during the Civil Rights movement, and he researched and wrote Roots at a time when African Americans and European Americans were reevaluating slavery and its legacy. Many Americans believed in what has often been called the "Gone With the Wind version" of slavery, in which enslaved Africans were happy-go-lucky, childlike people who were cared for by benevolent, paternalistic masters. One consequence of the Civil Rights movement was the reevaluation of this myth.

The reality of slavery was much more complex. White masters were certainly invested in the myth of paternalism, which allowed them to justify the enslavement of human beings on the grounds that the relationship of slaves and masters was a reciprocal one—the master took care of his slaves and claimed the fruits of their labor.

Although African Americans opposed this myth, they were often able to use paternalism...

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This section contains 811 words
(approx. 3 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our Roots Study Guide
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Roots from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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