Celia, A Slave Important Quotes

Melton A. McLaurin

Celia, A Slave

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Celia, A Slave Important Quotes

  1. “Yet the lives of lesser figures, men and women who lived and died in virtual anonymity, often better illustrate certain aspects of the major issues of a particular period than do the lives of those who, through significant achievement, the appeal of the orator or the skill of the polemicist, achieve national prominence.” (Introduction, p. ix)

Here, McLaurin accounts for his focus on the seemingly inconsequential life and death of slave girl in his exploration of the moral ambiguity of slavery, shifting the focus away from an account of what “great people” have done and to an accounting for what has been done to one of society’s most oppressed.

  1. “Celia’s trial, its causes and consequences, confront us with the hard daily realities of slavery rather than with the abstract theories about the workings of that institution.” (Introduction, p. ix)

Even though Celia as an individual is essentially absent from the narrative, her story still has the power to evoke empathy.  Her “hard daily realities” involved rape, for example, and her experience in the legal system involved a similar negation of her agency.  Though McLaurin draws abstract conclusions about the significance of Celia’s story for our understanding of slavery, his analysis is grounded in a horrible reality.

  1. “Celia’s story derives much of its significance, as well as its narrative power, from the nature of the specific issues and moral dilemmas it forced individuals to confront. Her case starkly reveals the relationships of race, gender, and power in the antebellum South, in addition to illustrating the manner in which the law was employed to assuage the moral anxiety slavery produced.  Finally, because race and gender are issues with which our society continues to grapple, and because both remain major factors in the distribution of power within modern society, the case of Celia, a slave, reminds us that the personal and the political are never totally separate entities.” (Introduction, p. xi)

This is a nutshell version of the book’s overall purpose and scope.

  1. “In many respects he was the fulfillment of the Jeffersonian dream, the personification of the ideals that had led to the purchase…
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