Out of Options...That Were Never There...

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"Slavery allows its victims no decision-making power over any aspect of their lives, including the decision to live. The lone exception, the only power they have, is that they may choose to die...That Eunice's suicide takes place in a novel that draws its title from a spiritual, in which Moses is asked to "go down" into Egypt to "set my people free," is no accident. If Moses should fail to appear, it may fall to the captive race to take what actions they can to liberate themselves."

...More Than It's Gonna Hurt you: Concerning Violence, Foster, pgs, 94-95

I chose to take a closer look at this quote because the reference reminded me so much of the young woman in "Machinal". In this example, Foster is referencing a character, a slave, who was impregnated by her slaveowner; not only that, but the slaveowner then impregnated the daughter. Feeling helpless, the slave decides to exhaust her only option: death. This slave reminded me of the young woman in "Machinal", because she, too, did not seem to have any choice as to the direction her life took. The young woman was as a slave in that she, like Eunice, had no say in how her body had been used. She flinched when her husband touched her, and nearly suffocated at the thought of an unwanted child suckling at her breast. Like the slave, the young woman's only escape was death, although that of her husband. Finally, at the end of the play, leading up to her execution, the young woman questions the priest. She wants to know why? Why was it that the only time she felt free was when she sinned? The only liberation the young woman felt was when she committed adultery and later murder. In accordance with Foster's example, Moses did not show up, and the captive took what actions she deemed necessary to free herself of the mechanical life she unwillingly lead.



Nikita McClellan said:

I feel that i must disagree with you on this statement. Yes slavery allow for no power especially when it comes to decisions. I agree with that. But to say that death is the only option is not something I can agree with. Slave have found ways to escape by educating themselve. It may have taken the a very long time, but as long has they had a will power they could keep going. When will power is gone, that it when death is the only option. In Machinal, the main character was trapped by the decsions that she allowed people to force upon. No one told her to stay. She could have chose to leave. She chose her own path even when her mother said that she did not have to actually be married. She had desicions that she could make but instead she gave in to pressure and left her will power behind. She left herself without hope and when that happens, unfortunate and horrible evens can occur.

Alicia Campbell said:

I see what you're saying. Maybe I should have clarified by saying they felt as though this was their only option. Or maybe they did not think they were strong enough to take another path...

Andrew Adams said:

I agree in some ways that the Young Woman was a slave and was trapped, but she is also not a slave. As Carlos talked about in his blog about the play, she chose to get into that relationship, and should have known the consequence of her actions. I'm glad I did not read that passage of Foster's before I read Machinal, because it would have ruined the ending for me. That is one problem I have with overanalyzing works before you read them. I feel like these points would be more useful a second time through, because it takes away the suprise and feeling of reading it for the first time.

Aja Hannah said:

What's your email cause there are two Alicia Campbells on the email list?

Alicia Campbell said:

My email is cam9369@setonhill.edu

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