Representation of people of color in the nineteenth century slavery novel in Cuba and Brazil

Kendal Moore, Florida International University


This dissertation explores the similarities and differences which characterize the depiction of people of color in certain representative nineteenth century Cuban and Brazilian slavery novels as a function of the authorial approach of each territory's literary tradition toward the issues of slavery, racial prejudice, and people of color. The selected texts, derived from the peak periods in slavery literature of each territory, include Francisco , by Anselmo Snárez y Romero; Sab, by Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda; Cecilia Valdés , by Cirilo Villaverde; A escrava Isaura, by Bernardo Guimarães; O mulato, by Aluísio Azevedo; and Bom-Crioulo, by Adolfo Caminha. While the present study explores the enslavement, abuse, and discrimination of people of color as a consequence of a deep-seated discourse of power, privilege and racial superiority, it focuses more extensively on the representation of people of color, particularly in their capacity to constructively appropriate the cultural values of the white dominant group and recognize their identity as ambiguous. ^ Said's theories of Orientalist discourse and geography and formation as well as Dube's perspective on subaltern-oriented studies provide a theoretical framework for exploring the response of slavery writers whose common exposure to slavery but dissimilar socio-political contexts generate some startling findings. Crafted within a period of political repression, fear of black revolt, factional in-fighting as well as strong socioeconomic ties to the slaveholding class, the Cuban texts generally fashioned an approach to slavery as one marked by moderation, reform, and cultural counter discourse and consequently depict people of color with a more passive but culturally authentic outlook. On the other hand, the Brazilian response to the issue of slavery, steeped in an ideological amalgam of liberalism, positivism, republicanism, and abolitionism, is characterized by overt opposition to slavery and a representation of people of color that is less concerned with cross-cultural input but reclaims their humanity as highly educable and socially mobile persons in search of greater freedoms. Ultimately, there is a shared message of higher significance couched in the worthwhile mission of raising slaves to the level of men. ^

Subject Area

Language, Modern|Literature, Latin American|Black Studies|Literature, Caribbean

Recommended Citation

Moore, Kendal, "Representation of people of color in the nineteenth century slavery novel in Cuba and Brazil" (2009). ProQuest ETD Collection for FIU. AAI3395781.