Summary and Analysis Project
By: Maisha Mahjebin
Chapter 5: The Immoral Auction of Slaves
The auction has just began and the slave seller, a careless and rude man, continues to talk about how great the slaves are that are in the stalls. He begins to talk about a family of four, about how strong and young they all are. The entire family gets sold for $400 and luckily did not get split up, unlike most slave families.
The selling goes fast and the rain falls harder. It seems as if the rain is trying to drown the sound of the slave seller's voice. He ends up shouting louder and louder as time passes and rain falls. So far, six slaves have been sold, each for an abundance of money. Emma, Master Butlers young slave, observes every little thing about the auction. She even tried hard to remember the faces of the slaves being sold since unfortunately, no one else would ever see them again.
Emma describes how terrible it must be to be up at the auction stage. Emma explained that if she were up there she would hide away her emotions and all her pain. She would mentally try to disappear so she would not feel a thing. Sarah, Master Butler's youngest daughter, was also extremely upset about what was going on and everything she was seeing. She thought the rain was God being angry at Papa for what he is doing.
The slave seller introduces the last slave being auctioned, Jeffrey. Standing on the stage, Jeffrey has his eyes sealed on Dorcas, the love of his life. He gets sold to Master Ellington for $1,310 and within seconds begins to beg Mr. Ellington to also buy Dorcas because he could not possibly live without her. However sadly, when Dorcas was being auctioned, she gets sold to someone else for $3,000 more dollars than what Mr. Ellington could afford and could not buy her.
Analysis: "It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed"
Sarah Dessen once said, “Anyone can hide. Facing up to things, working through them, that's what makes you strong”. After reading Days of Tears, one might notice that the slaves decided they were not going to be kept imprisoned by the whites thinking they were stronger than blacks. Some slaves filled their world with hope and were brave and strong enough to run away from the cruel and inhumane reality they lived in. When one views Julius Lester’s novel through a historical lens, it is clear that one of his strongest intended themes was that you need strength and determination to succeed.
In chapter five, “Slave Auction”, a brave character named Jeffery had just been bought by Master Ellington. There was another girl at the slave auction, Dorcas, who Jeffery was madly in love with. Once Jeffrey had been bought, he asked Master Ellington to buy her as well, however, Master Ellington said “I can’t throw around my money around for the sake of love”. Surprisingly, Jeffery had not given up and begged for him to buy Dorcas. He gave in, unfortunately someone bidded a higher price than what Master Ellington offered and could not take Dorcas home with them. Oddly enough, this would not be the same historical perspective we have been taught in our past. During this historical time period, it was uncommon for white slave owners to listen to anything their black slaves said or asked for. But for Jeffrey to beg the Master was quite brave and courageous of him, he did something not many slaves would do.
Examining the rest of the book through a historical lens, one could clearly recognize how much slavery impacted America. Many slaves tried their best to free themselves from their Masters and a lot of them did not get away with it. However, Joe, Emma, Winnie, and Charles all left the Henfield Plantation barn in the middle of the night while everyone was asleep. This was a very daring and courageous action to take. Charles and Winnie believed they would not make it, they believed nothing good come out of this but Emma and Joe told them otherwise. They were determined to be freed and it is their strength that lead them to go across the Ohio River and succeed to freedom. It is odd how different America is today. There are no slaves and the whole country has freedom unlike before when only the northern states were free.
In conclusion, it is evident that all you need is strength and determination to accomplish your goals. Reading the novel through a historical lens helps one understand the actual roles and events going on throughout the book. It helps one see things by how they truly are or once was.