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One racial stereotype is that slaves did not have feelings like most people.
It was typical for a white man to feel that a black man did not love or feel. They were just living happy, easy lives like animals. An example of this is the colonel’s attitude toward abolitionists.
I want to warn you… against these cussed abolitionists, who try to entice servants from their comfortable homes and their indulgent masters, from the blue skies, the green fields, and the warm sunlight of their southern home, and send them away off yonder to Canada…
Canada was a dreary place where slaves “are turned out to starve and die, unloved and uncared for,” of course. This makes the point. The slave owners felt that the slaves needed them. The idea that they loved their slaves because they took care of them was deeply entrenched in Southern culture.
The irony of the colonel’s response to Grandison’s kidnapping is clear.
Just think of their locking the poor, faithful [slave] up, beating him, kicking him, depriving him of his liberty, keeping him on bread and water for three long, lonesome weeks, and he all the time pining for the old plantation!
To the colonel, the slave could not help but want to return to the planation! There is no way he would have real human emotions, and feel a need to be free. The irony is that the slave’s “liberty” is being a slave.
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