The Known World Themes

Edward P. Jones
This Study Guide consists of approximately 110 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Known World.
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The Law

The Known World deals with the law most pointedly in the context of Sheriff John Skiffington request for guidance from Richmond about what can and should be done about the sale of free blacks back into slavery. The definitive answer is that such sales are illegal and should be punished. More broadly, the novel deals with the legality and extra legality of human slavery. That the U.S. Constitution forbade any interference with the "peculiar institution" for twenty years and that it formed the backbone of the southern plantation economy before the Civil War, is not mentioned. There is no need. Everyone, black and white, takes for granted that slavery is warranted by both human and divine law. Blacks are by essence of their skin color slaves.

William Robbins makes clear that the manumission papers he has given former slaves mean nothing if he chooses to renege...

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This section contains 2,119 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Known World Study Guide
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