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Washington Black Themes & Motifs

Esi Edugyan
This Study Guide consists of approximately 36 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Washington Black.
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Racial Oppression

The novel maintains a strong focus on dynamics of racial oppression in historical contexts as a means of highlighting how institutionalized racial oppression created a lasting legacy of racial tension and violence. The novel begins the development of this theme by highlighting the extreme violence that often took place under the institution of slavery. Erasmus is empowered by this intuition to treat the slaves of Faith Plantation in brutal ways that the novel illustrates in detail. For example, Wash states in narration, “the maimings began…[a slave] tried to run away, and to make an example of him, the master had an overseer burn him alive as we watched” (6). Thus, not only did the institution of slavery cause an extreme diaspora among the African peoples, but it caused widespread death and destruction among those oppressed peoples. These descriptions emphasize the historical precedent of extreme hatred...

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This section contains 2,220 words
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Buy the Washington Black Study Guide
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