What was Alice used for on the Waller Plantation?
Alice, in the novel, Nightjohn, represents all the horrors female slaves often endured during slavery. Alice is a little mentally disabled, and her master, Mr. Waller, decides that she would make a good breeder of children to increase his population of slaves. Alice fights against the master, and he ties her down and forces several male slaves to rape her. Alice is devastated by this experience and becomes even more despondent than ever. She wanders the plantation in a daze and enters the big house where she and other slaves are forbidden to go. Master Waller has her whipped so hard that her skin is torn from her body. He also rubs salt into her bleeding wounds. Unable to withstand the abuse, Alice runs away, and when the master’s dogs are set upon her, she stands there and lets them rip her apart. However, Alice doesn’t die, and Mammy nurses her back to health.
The novel is a testament to the horrific mental and physical abuse many slaves suffered throughout their lives. Alice’s story is especially troubling because of the ghastly, inhumane things she went through as a woman.