The Americans in 1890s, Kate Chopin sheds light

The historical issues often are rather controversial. Any historical fact can give rise to doubts of the historians and become a subject for scientific debates.

An autobiographical work Up from Slavery by Washington Booker describes the relationships between the black and white people in the United States before the Civil War from a new unexpected perspective of the actual participant of the events. Bookers’ memoirs do not contradict the descriptions of 1890s in The Awakening by Kate Chopin or The Strenuous Life by Theodore Roosevelt but add new significant information to them. Instead of criticizing the opposition between the black and the white, Booker emphasizes the interpersonal relationships between the masters and their slaves, emphasizing the devotion of the latter to the white population.

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Anyone attempting to harm ‘young Mistress’ or ‘old Mistress’ during the night would have to cross the dead body of the slave to do so… there are few instances, either in slavery or freedom, in which a member of my race has been known to betray a specific trust (Washington 28). In this point Booker’s perspective is opposed to the widely spread bias concerning the hatred of Afro-Americans towards their odious masters. In a number of situations the relations were rather warm and some of the slaves got accustomed to their position and did not want to change their life style. Giving rise to readers’ doubts concerning the generally accepted view on the confrontation between Afro-Americans and white population, Booker motivates them to get rid of their stereotypes. Pointing at another shift in public consciousness of Americans in 1890s, Kate Chopin sheds light upon the first signs of feminism in the society, choosing a woman struggling for her rights as the main protagonist of her book The Awakening. “The years that are gone seem like dreams… Perhaps it is better to wake up after all, even to suffer, rather than to remain a dupe to illusions all one’s life.” (Chopin 292). The idea of awakening is rather broad and can be used to define various changes in the country of the period under analysis.

Up from Slavery by Washington Booker can be regarded as a part of the 1890s America explored by Roosevelt emphasizing the same ideas of universal values which preceded the decline of slavery. The outside world does not know the struggle that is constantly going on in the hearts of both the Southern white people and their former slaves to free themselves from racial prejudice; and while both races are thus struggling they should have the sympathy, the support, and the forbearance of the rest of the world (Washington 220). A similar idea is proclaimed by Roosevelt who points at the significance of ensuring equal rights for all the citizens for demonstrating the level of development of the state and entering the world community as a civilized country. “In the end the slave was freed, the Union restored, and the mighty American republic placed one more as a helmeted queen among nations” (Roosevelt 5). Thus, describing the phenomenon, both authors point at its devastating effects for further progress of the United States, while the decision to get rid of it was similar to getting rid of a burden that prevented the development.

Up from Slavery by Washington Booker views the situation in America of 1890s through the eyes of an Afro-American, adding a new perspective to the descriptions of the situation in the country in The Awakening by Kate Chopin or The Strenuous Life by Theodore Roosevelt, without contradicting or opposing to them.

Works Cited

Chopin, Kate. The Awakening.

New York: Bibliobazaar, 2008. Print. Roosevelt, Theodore. The Strenuous Life: Essays and Addresses. New York: Cosimo Classics, 2006. Print. Washington, Booker.

Up from Slavery: An Autobiography. New York: Bibliobazaar, 2008. Print.


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