Treatment of Slaves in Letters from an American Farmer

The awful horrors concerning the penalty of slaves are revealed through the forthright utterances of a white American within the Letters from an American Farmer, particularly “Epistle IX: Charleston Slave,” by Jean de Crevecoeur (Lynn 67). Using the account, Crevecoeur graphically depicts the act of violence of the slave’s sentence. For instance, he states, “I tremble once I remember that the birds had by now poked out his eyes, his cheek bones were exposed; his upper limbs had been assaulted in numerous parts, and his body appeared covered with a massive amount of injuries” (Jean 341).  This essay analyzes the basics of Crevecoeur’s horrific description of getting face to face with the slavery terrors.  Notably, the conferences of character, voice, setting, tone, symbol, language, argument, symbol, and theme are studied.


The two principal characters within this narration are the author, Crevecoeur, and an unidentified African slave. Crevecoeur offers an appalling physical explanation of the slave’s appearance. He narrates the manner the slave is hanging on a tree inside a cage. When hanging inside the cage, bugs and birds picked out his eyes and peck at his cheeks leading to a blood-spattered, drenched mess. Crevecoeur defines the awful spectacle when he states, “As soon as the birds flew, the groups of bugs covered the entire body of this ill-fated wretch, ready to feed on his messy flesh.” (Jean 341). Moreover, Crevecoeur defines the slave’s uncouth English as an “uncivilized language.” (Jean 341). The muddled body is in a horrifying state, and even though the slave cannot witness, he can still converse and talk with the author.

Crevecoeur realizes the slave’s awful ache and distress not simply through the appearance of the slave, but as well through his utterances. The slave’s character is portrayed slyly, instead of openly through the passage (Finn 78).  He pleads for something to swallow and clarifies that he desires to pass away.  At this time in existence, nothing is inspiring the enclosed slave to stay alive.

Quite the opposite of the slave’s real account, Crevecoeur does not offer much explanation of his look; nonetheless, it grows to be clear that he is white. The caged man utters to him, “‘Tanke you, white man.'” (Jean 341). The slave should deduce Crevecoeur’s skin color as he cannot notice him given that the eyes of the slave are stuck out.  Crevecoeur’s speech and pronunciation should be that of a guy who is white, therefore offering the slave the details he requires to recognize the author’s color.


The background of this narrative is quite intricate. In principle, the location is in South Carolina, Charleston during the ending of the 18th century. The era and place are determined through the heading of the article, “Letter IX: Charleston Slave” and through the dates specified at the base of the text. However, more particularly this account happens within what Crevecoeur defines as “a little pathway, going through an enjoyable wood” (Jean 340). Despite this, the view of the imprisoned slave soon disturbs the pleasant wooded region.

Crevecoeur apparently offers sensory information concerning the background. Foremost, by his sense of contact, Crevecoeur experiences the air warmth once he states, “the daytime was entirely calm and humid” (Jean 340). Extra confirming proof of the heat, the slave begs for “some water to dispel his dehydration” (Jean 341). Subsequently, by his hearing logic, Crevecoeur realizes the “coarse voice, spoken a few incoherent monosyllables” (Jean 341) following which Crevecoeur defines the air as experiencing “powerfully disturbed” (Jean 340). Furthermore, the slave notices the approach of Crevecoeur, lacking the help of eyes. Crevecoeur states, “The breathing Specter could yet definitely hear” (Jean 341). Thus, the slave perceives Crevecoeur’s approach. Finally, through his logic of vision, Crevecoeur defines this region as verdant and foliage-covered.

Crevecoeur rates this location as a passageway to evade the day’s heat before coming into contact with the slave. If this background had a character, it could be a false one: breathtaking and peaceful, apart from when troubles (of slavery) make it terribly ugly and utterly horrifying. The “character” of this background is a unique part of the narrative because it helps in placing the voice, tone, and language (Fredrick 89).

Tone, Voice, and Language

The tone, voice, and speech collaborate in this article to offer an explicit feature, the state of Letter IX: Charleston Slave (Fredrick 51). The voice of Crevecoeur within this letter is in first-person. His viewpoint is restricted; he is not having complete knowledge and just expands on his opinions. This point is evident to the truth that Crevecoeur just defines the visual circumstances and sounds while explaining the state and standpoint of the African slave. Quite the opposite, Crevecoeur describes what he experienced during the conditions once he says, “unpleasant to imagine and to hurt to do again, I recognized a Negro, hanging inside the cage and departed there to die!” (Jean 341). Simply by his use of expletive marks, Crevecoeur defines the irritation and grief he experienced, and how he believes the state is miserably and alarmingly ridiculous.

The tone of this article is severe, roughly angry, and faintly influential. The seriousness is expressively charged, thus attempting to express some malice traits of slavery. The tone is apparent once Crevecoeur articulates his views sharply. He utters, “I stood frozen, unwillingly considering the destiny of the Negro in each of its miserable freedom” (Jean 341). It is apparent the tone is nearly sorrowful for the detained.
The language is shown by the writer’s employ of quotes in giving a whole, terrible mental image of the sights. For instance, once the slave pleads for water, the author gets a shell. He states, “I packed it using water, and through shaky hands, I directed it to the trembling lips of the unfortunate victim” (Jean 341). Even though texts similar to this are written extremely clear-cut, with no metaphors and metaphors and other expressive writing methods, a clear mental image is still created through his manner of comprehensively defining his thoughts.

A significant additional feature concerning the speech of this article is the application of definite terms, comprising “traveling” and “astounded” (Lynn 65) These words are not spelled within the contemporary American English mode. Therefore, it conveys the historical feature of this article.


The signs within “Letter IX: Charleston Slave” are recognized by the person who reads, instead of intentionally positioned by Crevecoeur (Lynn 43). One representation can be realized from the slave’s dehydration. At one time, Crevecoeur defines the manner the slave begs for something to sip. Crevecoeur states, “Pushed for by the enticing power of dehydration; he attempted to satisfy it as he impulsively estimated its approach through the sound it created in passing the blocks” (Jean 341). The course of the water throughout the blocks from a white individual’s arms to a black person’s arms could represent the opportunity for alteration in the handling of slaves or might even signify brotherhood among the human races.

A different likely representation is a cage. The imprisoned black slave might represent a slave’s position in the community. The characteristic affluent, white Americans of this time handled these black males, women, and kids like half-humans completely beneath the power of white citizens. Moreover, the cage bars might represent the rules and set of laws sited on slaves to maintain them from evading the awful slave life.
An additional inferred sign is realized using the birds. The birds tearing away the slave’s fresh could represent the manner the slaveholders “pecked” absent at the physical and emotional welfare of slaves (Finn 54). A further symbol connected to the birds is realized through the blood of the slave. Crevecoeur states, “From the ends of the empty sockets and from the cuts by which he was mutilated, the blood gradually dropped, and touched the earth underneath” (Jean 341). The slave’s blood oozing into the ground might represent the lasting damage and commemoration slavery departed on Earth.


The argument within this factual article or narrative is rather subtle and possibly unintended. The argument by Crevecoeur is that the slaves punishment may be too vicious for the white man not just to suffer themselves, but still too atrocious for the white ethnics to observe (Fredrick 45). Maybe, Crevecoeur does not imply to exhibit his view through this article, but it is evident. His delicate argument is clear at the very starting of this essay. He states, “The subsequent prospect will I anticipate account for these sad reflections, and act contrite for the overcast feelings by which I have packed this passage: my brains are, and forever has been, repressed since I happened to a observe it” (Jean 340). By this occurrence of witnessing the horrible sight of a fading man inside a confinement, Crevecoeur is eternally transformed and thus rightfully.
Although Crevecoeur suffered what “Humankind herself” would have been appalled by and concerns enough to report it, he is not essentially a male protagonist. For instance, He does not suggest any amendment to the modern laws (Finn 62).

Nevertheless, he ironically demonstrates the redundant unawareness of the white natives when he describes that they “endorsed the policy of slavery through arguments usually used to validate the behavior; through the recurrence of which I shall not bother you presently” (Jean 341). Maybe he was not brave enough to accomplish something like suggesting the new set of laws for the advantage and welfare of slaves, except he understood that his work might only demonstrate what he thought to be the dreadfulness of slavery for next generations.


There are two prominent themes all through Crevecoeur’s chronicle. One key theme is the dreadfulness Crevecoeur experiences while getting across the African hostage inside a confinement. All through this piece of writing, he portrays this awful scene: “my nerves were trembled” (Jean 341). He attempts, while confronting his fear and functioning against his public status, to accomplishing as substantially for the slave’s gain as likely. He states, “I searched, through wobbling, to ease him as much as I might” (Jean 341). Once his attempts to assist the slave were completed, the theme concerning the awfulness of the confined slave is more clarified. He states, “My intellect is, and forever has been, repressed since I happened to observe it” (Jean 340). Therefore, Crevecoeur describes the manner the ordeal of this date will be eternally rooted in his brain.

A different theme talked about towards the conclusion of the text is the position of white citizens and the manner they exhibit unawareness and dehumanization to the slaves. Once Crevecoeur departs the slave to go for a dinner, the other white natives are not as hit with the hurt and fear similar to that of Crevecoeur that he defines as a “terrible sight of excruciating torment” (Jean 341). Instead, they describe the conditions and interpretation behind the locking up of a man. He states that they clarify “the motive for this black man being thus penalized was because of his having murdered the supervisor of the farm.” (Jean 341). Therefore, they create it appear as if this atrocious affliction is permissible chastisement for another person. Maybe the unawareness of these men could transform if they were within the similar circumstances as Crevecoeur and observes this brutality personally.

Comparison the letter, The Death Penalty for a Slave and What is an American by Jean de Crevecoeur
Backgrounds: the background of the text, What is an American is that the writer schooled in England and thus he could link his experiences when comparing life in the two nations. The author had claimed to support the colonists that were trustworthy thus people would most probably agree more consecutively because of his history. On the other hand, the setting of, The Death Penalty for a Slave is that it happens within what Crevecoeur defines as “a little pathway, going through an enjoyable wood” ( Jean 340). Despite this, the view of the imprisoned slave soon disturbs the pleasant wooded region.

Themes: the themes in What is an American include the theme that an American does not have actually to labor hard for what they attain. However, they can get whatever they need since America is a blessed nation and through the use of slaves to work for them. Another theme is that Americans are not fashioned into real men through hard work like in other countries. The themes in The Death Penalty for a Slave include the dreadfulness Crevecoeur experiences while getting across the African hostage inside a confinement.
Arguments: The argument in What is an American is that the people of America are unified by land and the will of individualism while the argument in The Death Penalty for a Slave is that the slaves punishment may be too vicious for the white man not just to suffer themselves, but still too atrocious for the white ethnics to observe.

Through this fictional study of Letters from an American Farmer, correctly “Letter IX: Charleston Slave,” by Michel Guillaune Jean de Crevecoeur, it is crucial to understand the way the awfulness of slavery and the person traits of slaves were always ignored and considered insignificant. Crevecoeur in an ironic and irritated tone states, “they advised me that the rules of self-protection made such implementations essential” (Jean 341). As a result, it is encouraging for contemporary civilization to understand that even various non-slaves of this age realized the slavery brutality and were distressed and wounded by its aggression.