Monday, 20 October 2014

Federal Writers' Project

Clara C. Young
Mississippi Narratives, Volume XI
Page 169

Clara C. Young's account of both her childhood and adult life as both a house slave and working in the fields is very intriguing. In the narrative she states that she cannot recall the year in which she was born but knows that her surname Conley came from ‘da old marster dat owned dem’, this i found interesting  . Her and the rest of her siblings lived with their parents until the ‘ chullum drew dey parts’  and she was sold onto a new master at seventeen years old.  Clara does not say how she felt about being separated from her family and leaving the home in which she was raised. Young then goes on to describe her life at her new masters house, and how ‘Dey had a nigger woman teach all de house darkies how’ to read a’ write’ this part of Clara’s story surprised me as based on what she says contrary to popular belief there were some slaves who were given some form of education, albeit extremely basic.
 The way in which Clara explains the way in which she was 'given' to her masters son ' dey gave me to 'maree Andrew'. He car'ied me an' da rest out to Texas' implies that Clara did viewed her masters as paternal figures, the act of  being 'car'ied' and the use of such a benevolent term could imply this. She uses the term later on when she describes her new master Matthew Ewing purchasing  her and other slaves to them be 'car'ied' to his plantation in Aberdeen, Mississippi.
At the start of the interview Clara's account depicts her masters as being kind and  'thoughtful' this does continue in the rest of the interview the only person she seem to think ill of is the overseer er on the Ewing's plantation. The overseer is conveyed as being threatening and cruel as he even 'whipped wimen an' all'.
One of the most interesting parts of the interview by far, is when Clara tells the writer that her time spent with the other slaves was 'de mos fun we had'. Many of us having been raised with the idea that being slave meant you couldn't have fun, because your movement and access to things was restricted. However, Clara's depiction of her time spent with slaves from other plantations 'dey wud start sing'n and shout'n' and being joyous gatherings in which many of the slaves took comfort from the distraction of religion.
The final part of the interview is by far, from my point of view the most bizarre,as Clara's expresses her dislike for the 'Yankees'. She talks about how many of the slaves didn't know and couldn't comprehend the good freedom would bring them. She even mentions the slaves mocking the Yankees through song
'Old Mister Yankee, think he so grand,
 wid his blue coat tail, dragg'n on de ground. 
I stayed on wid Ol' marster afta' de surrender, wid de res'

Clara then goes on to say that she prefers the way her life was during slavery then what it is now with 'old age pension' saying that' If dem Yankees had lef' us lone we'd been a lot happier'. She even suggest that one of her grandchildren would have been 'de Missuses very smartes gal'. Overall, Clara C.Young's narrative of her life during slavery depicts her life as although being rough and harsh at times, she was genuinely happy being a slave, which goes against the popular belief that all of slaves during that time wanted to run away and hated their masters.

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