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Thoughts of a Slave

September 20, 2012

Illustration of a slave sale from Bickell’s West Indies as They Are (1825), p.19.

Here’s a very insightful set of questions by your classmate, Winnie Fu, on Mary Prince’s account of her life as a slave the British West Indies in the mid-1700s.

Mary Prince was born a slave in Bermuda and was traded several times before she was able to claim her freedom. During the time of being in the market she was devastated but it didn’t stop her from noticing the facial expressions of potential buyers.  How did she interpret what she saw? What would your thoughts be if you were situated in her position? What did she wish to accomplish by having people acknowledge her thoughts and feelings of being a slave?
11 Comments leave one →
  1. Jotty T. F rancois Fils permalink
    September 20, 2012 11:20 pm

    As a slave, Mary couldn’t stop prevent her trading.The only thing she had to do is to stay stand in front of buyers so that she can be examined and sold. What she saw was horrible about white people’s feelings.While trade took place,her mother was in pain for her young ones that she might be never see them again. Mary’s heart throbbed with grief and terror, she couldn’t keep it still and nobody cared. Their only concern was the sale of slaves.For Mary, What she saw, was only that those white people have small hearts who can only feel for themselves. If I were in Mary’s position, I would think totally that whites peoples doesn’t have hearts at all and in its place is a stone. It’s hard to understand how they treated blacks during slavery. They were human like them, had the right to think, had feelings and all that were trampled under white people’s feet. Also I would think that they Consider Blacks like they were destined to serve white’s people as slave and therefore they must accomplish their fate . By Sharing her thoughts and feelings of being slave to all the good people in England , Mary wished that they may break their chains and set them free.

  2. Nataliya Chornobryvets permalink
    September 21, 2012 11:32 am

    In the beginning of her story, Mary makes it clear that her first masters were not cruel to their slave. The girl realized she was a slave and I think she heard the stories about brutal masters. But despite her understanding, there was a hope in her kind heart to see that white people can be kind too. Writing about the slave market and white people’ attitude to slaves, Mary Prince described her feelings and thoughts to show that slaves felt pain, sorrow, and other feelings inherent in humans. She expected to find at least sympathy from white people, but saw only people with stone hearts.

  3. Shira Binyaminy permalink
    September 21, 2012 3:36 pm

    Born into slavery Mary Prince was sold numerous times to different masters. She saw from their facial expressions that they perceive the slaves as cattle and not as humans with feelings. When her mother was lamenting over them and them crying about the sale, she mentioned how all the people surrounding them were glancing at them carelessly without feeling their pain and suffering. Imagining myself in such a situation is very frightening. Not being able to have a choice in your future and being torn apart from your family without the hope of ever seeing them again in unimaginable pain, something that no human should ever experience!
    Mary wanted everyone to know what slavery is really about and how the white people looked at them without thinking about their feelings. Even though it must have been very difficult to travel back to that dreadful time, she felt it was worth it so that everyone will know the horrors of slavery.

  4. Syed Tazim permalink
    September 21, 2012 7:15 pm

    Mary Prience was born as a Slave. when she was brought to the slave trading market place she was treated as a animal. she had to stand in a line like beasts. she gave detailed details of the buyers attitude towards the slaves. The buyer were using nasty phrases against the slaves. Mary prience was brought to the middle of the street and everyone in the market was staring at her.she has compare this to a butcher looking at “Sheep or Cattle”. It would been a neglecting, humiliating experience for me. it would have make me feel sick. By sharing her thought it will be easy to reach the mass people who think that the salves have no feeling. It will help the white people, to understand that slaves has all the right to live a free life. She shared her experience so that every body can understand what a slave goes threw in daily basis and how badly they are treated by their masters. she wish to accomplish freedom for all slaves by sharing her life story with the “Good people in England.”

  5. Norbert Fital permalink
    September 22, 2012 1:01 am

    Mary Prince was born into slavery and lived much of her life through it. Mary was sold several times to other slave masters. Despite having a new slave master she realized where ever she when the life of a slave is always the same, the only difference is the person giving commands. When Mary was being examined while she was being sold she compared herself as being in a situation of a farm animal. She also noticed that white people have small hearts since they treat other humans in this manner. If I were in her position I would have felt in a similar way. I would feel like I was another person’s property or a work horse that has no point but to be used as a tool by a master. I would view the slave masters as being cruel and emotionless. By sharing her experiences and feelings as a slave she hopes that one day people realize how cruel slavery is and become set free.

  6. Vera Orlando permalink
    September 23, 2012 6:08 pm

    Mary Prince was a young black girl living in the rough times through slavery, a time where blacks were dehumanized and treated like animals, as Mary states in “The Horrors of Slavery.” Besides being bidded on by different white slave owners and treated as property, I really believe another tough situation Mary makes clear is the fact that slavery broke up families. She repeatedly talks about her and her sisters having to be separated and how her mother cried and mourned losing her children to the whites buying them. “Greif, terror, loneliness” we’re all words she used to describe her experience of being sold and actually being a slave. If I were a slave in Mary’s position I’m not sure I would be as strong as she was, dealing with all of the maltreatment and punishments for just being myself. I strongly believe no one has the right to degrade any other human being no matter what racial background, religious/political views they believe in, age, gender, etc. By telling of her experiences, Mary Prince hoped to open the eyes of the English of what really goes on between a slave owner and his slave and to try to have all slaves set free.

  7. Irena Pergjika permalink
    September 23, 2012 7:08 pm

    Mary Prince was born and raised as a Slave. Although she was sold to many masters before, she really liked her current one. However, when her master passed away, she was driven to the market and put out for sale once again. At the market she was viewed as someone without any feelings or emotions. In other words just a commodity item, a piece of meat to be sold off to the highest bidder. Mary thought of white people as cold and small hearted, since they were treating her and other slaves in this inhumane kind of manner.
    I would feel the same way if I was in Mary Prince shoes. If they were to treat me the same way that they were treating her, I wouldn’t have given them a second thought. I would view them in no other way but as cold hearted and unmerciful individuals.
    After living the life of a slave, Mary Prince wanted people to realize how horribly treated they were, and how emotionally painful and physically taxing it is to be a slave. By sharing her story she was hoping that one day, all slaves would gain their freedom.

  8. Fabiola Ramos permalink
    September 25, 2012 12:37 pm

    Throughout her life, Mary Prince was exposed to humiliating events that im sure no one would want to be a part of. She was sold to white people who saw her as an animal. As she was standing in front of the poeple who could potentially be her new masters, she realized that they didnt see her as a human. To her this was unbelievable because she knew she was a human just like them and that there was no difference between them but yet they still saw her as an animal and were not the least sympathetic towards her. One of the things that hurt her the most was being seperated from her family. She didnt like the idea of being treated as an animal but she disliked the idea of being removed from her family much more. I would be completely devestated if i were put in her position. I would be forced to believe that these white people have no heart and that they were extremely cruel and cold hearted. I cant imagine having to stand infront of people who can be considered my new owners and who wouldnt aknowledge the fact that i was human just like them. I think the point that she tries to make is that the white owners needed to understand that they were also humans and that what they were doing was not at all right.

  9. Joseph DeAngelo permalink
    September 27, 2012 8:44 pm

    Mary Prince’s thoughts, I believe, served as the surrogate for millions of others slaves who were stripped of their human rights and treated like an object. In light of the unethical actions of slavery, Prince shared her thoughts and views on slaves, white owners, and the system altogether. She believed that albeit slaves were treated like instruments–being dehumanized day in and day out–they were still intrinsically humans and thus should have been treated differently, to say the least. Not only were the whites inhumanely treating the slaves, but, as Prince highlights, they had no feelings a sympathy for the slaves–not even in the times of their absolute desperation. Being sold from slave owner to slave owner, she expresses her feelings as very lonely and as if she was an object rather than a person. She felt great pain in the slave system’s doings insofar as family separation goes. She described her mother’s deep aguish from being torn apart from her children in the worst of ways. Reading this, I have nothing but sincere empathy, not only for Mary Prince, but also for any slave, as she was writing with the words of millions. Regardless of a persons skin or ethnicity, we are all human and should thereby not be treated poorly or unequally. I believe that Mary Prince wrote this with the hope that one day white owners would realize the slaves’ humanity and equally and they would gain their freedom. I believe she viewed the world as one big family, granted it didn’t seem like that at the time; she thought people should be treated with parity and their people should never be separated from their own family, as she stresses in her words.

  10. Ezra Pichotto permalink
    October 15, 2012 12:20 am

    Mary prince was bought and resold as a slave numerous times. Each time was extremely hard, demoralizing and agonizing. While in the slave market Mary knew that she was going to get sold and there was nothing that she can do about it. While glancing in the eyes of the white slave buyers Mary was not able to comprehend how these white men can go ahead and purchase another human being as if They were cattle. She thought that these men had no heart. While in the slave market she also thought about her owns mother pain and anguish knowing that your daughter in suffering and not being able to help her, that pain must have been worst then Mary’s. by telling over her story marry hoped that this cruel slave trade will be brought to a stop. I can not even bring my self to imagine being in her shoes and hopefully I will never have to go threw what she went threw. But I can say is that after a while of being auctioned off I would not feel like a human being anymore as fellow classmate Irena Pergjika feels I would also see them as cold hearted individuals.

  11. Xiarra-Diamond Nimrod permalink
    December 19, 2012 2:07 am

    Mary Prince was unfortunately born into being a slave , and raised while being a slave as well. She had no control over her being traded, and witnessed at first hand very detrimental experiences during the trades. She viewed how ignorant and selfish the Caucasian traders were, and how they didnt care not one bit about taking her away from her family. Placing myself in Mary Prince’s shoes allows me to sit back and view how thankful we should be for the freedom and privileges we are granted with today. I can’t go without seeing some members of my family for a few days, let along imagine being physically taken away from them in general Mary Prince unfortunately had rough life.

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