Scene ... Not Heard
DOI link for Scene ... Not Heard
Scene ... Not Heard book
The Afro-American slave narrative is a classic site of what might be called the "scene of violence" in American discourse. This scene plays itself out, as the scholar Richard Slotkin has demonstrated, with infinite variation in American history. But in slave narratives and Afro-American history in general, it shapes itself according to a unique logic of sound and silence, agency and powerlessness. An example from the 1845 Narrative if the Life if Frederick Douglass, An American Slave serves to illustrate. Douglass's narrator begins one of the work's most gruesome scenes of violence as follows: "Mr. Gore [white overseer for Colonel Lloyd] was a grave man, and, though a young man, he indulged no jokes, said no funny words, seldom smiled .... His savage barbarity was equalled only by the consummate coolness with which he committed the grossest and most savage deeds upon the slaves under his charge."