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Stephanie
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Rosetta

Rosetta is a woman who is both embittered, yet still filled with hope. How do these two aspects conflict in her?
Stephanie
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vivico1
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Re: Rosetta


Stephanie wrote:
Rosetta is a woman who is both embittered, yet still filled with hope. How do these two aspects conflict in her?


Being embittered and having hope are feelings that can cause conflict in any of us. Some of the ways these play out in her life, well to say during this first week of the month while others are still reading, would create a spoiler, so I will speak to this in a general way.


Rosetta, as a woman, as a black woman slave of this time had a life of things to be bitter about. I know this goes to the men too but speaking about the women slaves here, as Rosetta was,so much of their lives were taken from them. Women in many cultures and many eras have been seen as less then men, put down, used for men's entertainment and workhorses and in some ways, its still true today. But for Rosetta, for the black women slaves, it went even deeper, you were not just seen as unequal to men, you were seen as unequal to "humans", (as were all the Negroes) but it could be even worse for the women. There is a line in the movie The Ten Commandments, that I think is so very true about female slaves. They are in the mudpits when the taskmaster calls for one of the women to be taken to his home. An old man says, its a curse for our women to be beautiful, something like that. From the description of Rosetta, I think its a curse for her too. To be pretty AND be seen as property, even your most intimate self and being can be taken from you at any time and as often and in any way that a man wants. If you can get used to that, in some way, push it to some place in your mind you can handle, then there is the problem with being a slave mother. Imagine having your children, beaten,killed, maimed, used sexually or just flat sold away from you, never to be seen again. I don't know if we can truly fathom that today. She has a lifetime of abuse to be embittered by, but often, when our body and free will is taken from us, what is left is our hope and you put everything into that one thing. When all is taken, its all you have left, hope for something better and at that point, it wouldnt take much to be better. Rosetta has many hopes and I think they are what keep her going, keep her fighting for life and possibly even keep her sane in an insane world of slavery where people are "things".
Vivian
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IBIS
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Re: Rosetta

The conflict of bitterness at her miserable lot in life, and hopefullness for her child's future as a free person, is a fascinating dynamic that shapes Rosetta.

She has amazingly clear-sighted and astute perceptions of human nature.. it's hard to believe that she is only 21. She observed Cain carefully, and within weeks, had a clear understanding of his character. Her assessment of his character was more accurate than his own self-awareness.

She cared deeply for people, even though they're white, and treat her badly.
When Cain wanted to desert the woman with cholera, Rosetta insisted on staying with her and help to bury her dead child.

She volunteered to clean the dead bodies of Hettie and her husband when no one else wanted the job. She washed and dressed them, and used sheets to shroud them so that they would have a proper burial.

She experienced brutality throughout her life at the hands of Eberly. She mourned when her mother and son were sold. And she suffered the defeat of being recaptured and returned as his chattel.

Although she led a defeated and enslaved life, she ran away in the hope that the child she's carrying would be born free.
IBIS

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kiakar
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Re: Rosetta



vivico1 wrote:

Stephanie wrote:
Rosetta is a woman who is both embittered, yet still filled with hope. How do these two aspects conflict in her?


Being embittered and having hope are feelings that can cause conflict in any of us. Some of the ways these play out in her life, well to say during this first week of the month while others are still reading, would create a spoiler, so I will speak to this in a general way.


Rosetta, as a woman, as a black woman slave of this time had a life of things to be bitter about. I know this goes to the men too but speaking about the women slaves here, as Rosetta was,so much of their lives were taken from them. Women in many cultures and many eras have been seen as less then men, put down, used for men's entertainment and workhorses and in some ways, its still true today. But for Rosetta, for the black women slaves, it went even deeper, you were not just seen as unequal to men, you were seen as unequal to "humans", (as were all the Negroes) but it could be even worse for the women. There is a line in the movie The Ten Commandments, that I think is so very true about female slaves. They are in the mudpits when the taskmaster calls for one of the women to be taken to his home. An old man says, its a curse for our women to be beautiful, something like that. From the description of Rosetta, I think its a curse for her too. To be pretty AND be seen as property, even your most intimate self and being can be taken from you at any time and as often and in any way that a man wants. If you can get used to that, in some way, push it to some place in your mind you can handle, then there is the problem with being a slave mother. Imagine having your children, beaten,killed, maimed, used sexually or just flat sold away from you, never to be seen again. I don't know if we can truly fathom that today. She has a lifetime of abuse to be embittered by, but often, when our body and free will is taken from us, what is left is our hope and you put everything into that one thing. When all is taken, its all you have left, hope for something better and at that point, it wouldnt take much to be better. Rosetta has many hopes and I think they are what keep her going, keep her fighting for life and possibly even keep her sane in an insane world of slavery where people are "things".




Viv, what you said is so true, A life enslaved is unimaginable to us today. If you could call this even a inkling of what a slave felt like inside, I had a job for years that enslaved me. You went in to the job and you might have to stay two shifts and this went on forever. If you left you were fired immediately. You didn't have a life beyond this job. It made me feel emtrapped in someone else's world, not having a life of choices for myself. And if this was every second of my life, I can just imagine the very essenence of my soul feeling the entrapment, constantly over and over , every waking moment. And the free feeling I felt when I left this job to be able to plan tomarrow or feel I could do what I desired not someone else planning it for me was quite exhilberating. But of course this was only a inkling of what slaves suffered in their lives in the south.
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MichaelCWhite
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Re: Rosetta

Dear all,

Some truly fascinating comments about Rosetta. I agree that being a female slave in the period was even worse than being a male slave. Rosetta, like countless other female slaves, not only didn't have her freedom, she didn't even control her own body. She was violated in ways that male slaves were not. There is a section of the novel, right after Cain captured Rosetta, where she had to go to the bathroom. Before he unties her, he tells her he has to search her for weapons. As he runs his hands up and down her, he says that she stiffens, as if she were used to having her body touched without her consent. This violation goes beyond the kind of abuse, torture, and humiliation that male slaves were subject to. And yet, as several point out, Rosetta is not embittered by life. She is able to still respond as a human being--and in several instances, with kindness to white people. The example include Hettie, the woman with cholera, and even with Cain. This, to me, suggests that she has retained, despite all the vicious treatment, her own identity as a human being first, as a slave second.


Michael


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IBIS
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Re: Slave Women and their humanity

Today, we imagine the misery of slave women's daily lives through the prism of our contemporary sensibilities. There will always be a chasm between the imagined and the nuts and bolts of reality. With empathy and imagination, we can diminish that gap, but we can never really close it.

One point I would like to make is that the compassion and humanity of many women slaves rose above the misery of their lives in the ante-bellum South. Instead of returning their masters' cruelty with hatred of their own, many women allowed their compassion and humanity to triumph over their circumstance.

In SOUL CATCHER, we meet Lila, who has sons of her own. She mourns the destinies of her boys born into slavery. And yet she treats the Cain boys with the maternal care and nurture as she would her own sons. She makes clear to Augustus that her boys are exactly the same as white boys... they all like fresh-baked cookies.

Wonderful stories like SOUL CATCHER are good reminders of this.
IBIS

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Fozzie
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Re: Rosetta

Rosetta is a character to admire and emulate. She managed to remain a human being and to continue to treat others as human beings even though she was treated as more of an object than a human. I, too, continually thought of her as being 40 years old rather than closer to 20 because of her wisdom and compassion.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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MichaelCWhite
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Re: Rosetta

Fozzie,

Yes, Rosetta seems aged beyond her years. She has lived much, and yet, as you say, she has retained her humanity. In fact, she (and perhaps Maddy) are the most human people in the novel, despite the effects of slavery on them.

Michael


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Stephanie
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Re: Rosetta

Laura,

I think 20 was closer to 40 back then.

Just an aside- My son and I are reading/discussing Frankenstein (we love to talk books - no surprise there!) and I was telling him about Mary Shelley, and the fact that she was only twenty-one when she published Frankenstein. We then discussed the differences between twenty-one 200 years ago and twenty-one now. Young people sure seemed to know quite a lot more then than they do now, hm?
Stephanie
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Fozzie
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Re: Rosetta-Age



Stephanie wrote:


I think 20 was closer to 40 back then.

Just an aside- My son and I are reading/discussing Frankenstein (we love to talk books - no surprise there!) and I was telling him about Mary Shelley, and the fact that she was only twenty-one when she published Frankenstein. We then discussed the differences between twenty-one 200 years ago and twenty-one now. Young people sure seemed to know quite a lot more then than they do now, hm?



I think you are right. I just started a new book last night, Zoli. It has as two main characters a grandfather and a granddaughter. It takes place in the 1930's. I thought the grandfather would be in his fifties. No! 39! That's younger than me! LOL!
Laura

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Stephanie
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Re: Rosetta-Age

[ Edited ]
I think you are right. I just started a new book last night, Zoli. It has as two main characters a grandfather and a granddaughter. It takes place in the 1930's. I thought the grandfather would be in his fifties. No! 39! That's younger than me! LOL!


Me too! Oh well, I suppose if you think about it, people didn't live as long as they do today, so I guess you'd want your grandkids when you'd still be around to see them!

Message Edited by Stephanie on 11-15-2007 09:14 PM

Message Edited by Stephanie on 11-15-2007 09:14 PM
Stephanie
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MichaelCWhite
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Re: Rosetta-Age

I agree with the age difference between then and now. In earlier times there was a short childhood period (even then most "kids" helped with chores, and not just to get an allowance) followed by adulthood, with little or no adolescence. Adolescence is a relatively modern notion. Shakespeare's Juliet was supposed to be 13, and about to get married. And Keats', one of my favorite poets, was "old" by the time he was twenty-two. Rosetta, likewise, while in her early twenties seems old to me, and I kept having to remind myself of her chronological age.

Yes, in earlier times, with the prospect of death looming from fairly benign things, people grew up and matured much faster, I think.

Michael


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