Celia: A Slave Essay, Research Paper
Celia: A Slave
CELIA: A SLAVE by Melton A. McLaurin is a wonderful book about a single example of the sufferings slavery caused. Piecing together the parts of a life, Mr. McLaurin, tells the story of Celia.
Robert Newsom of Missouri, who raped her before they even reached her new home, purchased Celia in 1850 at the age of 14. For the next five years, of Celia s life, Newsom continued to rape her, most likely fathering her two children. Celia later fell in love with one of her fellow slaves by the name of George. Jealous, George insisted she end her relationship with her master. Celia, trying to meet George s request, threatened to harm Newsom if he did not leave her alone, and she carried out her promise.
The next time Newsom came to her cabin, Celia refused his advances and then defended herself with a large stick. She quickly killed Newsom. Panicking at first, Celia regained her composure, built a roaring fire burned Newsom s body, and hid his bones. By dawn Celia was prepared play dumb about the whole thing. Unfortunately, pressure exerted upon George forced Celia to confess.
The response of the white community of Missouri reveals the irony of the belief in slavery. Slaveholders believed slavery was their right, and that it was not inhumane, yet Celia’s case and the exposure of Newsom’s actions pushed them, to see it s bad points. Some white s had sympathy for Celia s suffering and were disgusted at Newsom’s actions, others saw her only as property. Celia s lawyer s efforts to show her as not guilty due to protecting her life failed, and Celia was hanged.
McLaurin succeeds in using Celia’s story to raise larger issues about the meaning of American slavery for both blacks and whites, for both women and men. Celia: A Slave forces us to acknowledge the extremes to which slavery drove its victims, and how it confused meanings of crime, guilt and innocence and how terrible it was to be a female slave.