Gloriana's Crime Blog

Violence and Cinderella

When I first read the name Nat Turner, I thought it sounded really familiar and then as I read his confession I remembered we learned about him in school. We didn’t talk much about the actual slave rebellion; it was mainly about the impact of the rebellion and it was a page at most in the text book. It got me thinking how much violence is glossed over in the history books. It may tell you 55 people died, but it doesn’t tell you how many little kids and babies were killed or the fact that some of the slaves made a woman lay next to her husbands corpse before shooting her. The text book also did not mention how smart Nat Turner really was. I don’t necessarily thing that the book should be graphic in its details but I barely remembered the rebellion, it didn’t make much of an impact on me. However the confession will stick with me for a while.

One line that really stuck out to me was “I was not addicted to stealing in my youth, nor have ever been—Yet such was the confidence of the negroes in the neighborhood…that they would often carry me with them when they were going on any roguery.” To me it sounds like stealing was what was expected from African Americans in his time period. He doesn’t say a group, he says “the negroes” which also makes me think it was very prominent because it was expected.

Another thing that stuck out to me was the slave that protected Miss Whitehead and then gave evidence against some of them during their trial. The slave could very easily see why what Nat Turner and his following were wrong while Turner thought it was his calling from God to kill white people.  Violence to end violence only leads to more violence.

The Murder of A Daughter reading really upset me. Not only did they treat the daughter horribly resulting in her death, but they had extremely light punishments in my opinion. To be burnt in the hand hurts, but its not as bad as being given “her own Excrement to eat” when she cried for bread.  The judge expected the realization of what they had done to “be more terrible and shocking to them, than the Punishment they were to undergo.” It of course reminded me of Cinderella as I was reading it. Except in most stories of Cinderella I have read, the father is either dead or just very passive allowing the step mother to torture Cinderella. In this tale the father has a bigger role and helps cause his daughter’s death.

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  1. 9/19/2013 | 5:25 pm Permalink

    Have you read the Grimm Brothers’ version of Cinderella? It is remarkably brutal and violent (http://www.pitt.edu/~dash/grimm021.html). I am interested in what you were saying about the idea that the History books gloss over some of the most hoorific elements, and I would argue this narrative focuses on them more specifcially. Why? What fears undergird this narrative? What fears undergird Franklin’s “Murder of a Daughter”? Motivation for the writing of a story is ever neutral.

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