How was slavery maintained in the face of growing challenges in The Kitchen House?

The biggest challenge to slavery in The Kitchen House is the death of James Pyke, the plantation's owner and slave master. He is briefly replaced by Will, who is kind to the slaves, but will is then deposed by Marshall, who is cruel and bigoted. As shown through Marshall's beliefs, slavery is preserved through backward and bigoted beliefs passed down between generations. 

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The Kitchen House is a novel written by American author Kathleen Grissom , first published in 2010 by Atria Books. It is a coming-of-age tale centering on Lavinia McCarter, an Irish orphan indentured into the Tall Oaks tobacco plantation in Virginia, managed by slave-owner Captain James Pyke. Lavinia is raised...

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The Kitchen House is a novel written by American author Kathleen Grissom, first published in 2010 by Atria Books. It is a coming-of-age tale centering on Lavinia McCarter, an Irish orphan indentured into the Tall Oaks tobacco plantation in Virginia, managed by slave-owner Captain James Pyke. Lavinia is raised by Pyke’s African-American servants, and grows to consider them family. However, because she is not African-American herself, Lavinia is eventually sent away to be educated and married off, as was custom in those days.

In the novel, a growing challenge to slavery in the Tall Oaks plantation is Will Stephenson, a kind and just man who becomes overseer of the estate when Captain James Pyke dies of yellow fever. His authority is challenged, however, when Marshall, Pyke’s son, comes of age and decides to take over the plantation. Unlike Will, Marshall is harsh and brutal towards the slaves; he works them to exhaustion and even takes advantage of a young slave girl, Lavinia’s dear childhood friend Beattie.

The difference between the two is that Marshall was raised in a privileged household, taught to believe that, by virtue of his race, he is inherently superior to African-Americans. Will, however, is a servant himself; although he is white, he sympathizes with the plight of the slaves and does whatever he can to help them. Bigoted and backwards beliefs passed down from generation to generation, as in the case of Marshall, are what maintain the culture of slavery amidst challenges.

In the end, Will and Lavinia are able to dispose of Marshall and live peacefully at a small plot on Tall Oaks together with the slaves.

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