Six Sentence Sunday, 18 March 2012 (The Reincarnations of Miss Anne)

“Thank you, Araminta,” Charlotte said.  She prided herself on the good manners of her house servants, Araminta and her sister Sarah and the footmen, Scipio and Hannibal.  Thomas liked his male slaves to have names out of the classics; it amused him.  When they bought him, Scipio had been Tom and Hannibal had been Frederick, common names, and in the case of Tom’s, a mockery of his own.  He didn’t need the neighbors to think there was kinship where there was not.  Though it was the very devil getting the boys to answer to their new names, and it had taken a bit of Thomas’ own work with the rawhide to impress that on them.

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11 Responses to Six Sentence Sunday, 18 March 2012 (The Reincarnations of Miss Anne)

  1. sassyspeaks says:

    Yes that would require a bit of taming for people to answer to names not their own. Oh and Heavens forbid to have the same name as a slave. Liked how you threw in the rawhide bit

    • epbeaumont says:

      The theme of the name runs all the way through the slave narratives of the 18th, 19th and 20th century: having your name taken from you, making a new name for yourself in freedom. (Frederick Douglass took the name of a Scottish chieftain out of Sir Walter Scott as his new surname in freedom.) The story above is fiction, of course, but it happened over and over again.

  2. Vivien Dean says:

    A lot of characterization comes out in this small snippet. Well done!

  3. Your excerpt gives great insight into your characters and makes me curious about the relationship between Thomas and Charlotte.

  4. Silver James says:

    You’ve revealed a lot about your characters in this snippet. Nicely done.

  5. You’ve said a lot about slavery, and what it does to the masters as well as the slaves.
    BTW I’m here–just miscounted.

  6. devinharnois says:

    This is chilling, seeing it from a slave owner’s perspective. They are clearly not people to her, but some kind of pet or livestock.

    • epbeaumont says:

      I began from a (not unusual) story in William Still’s Underground Railroad, in which a semi-literate slave-owner reproached his runaway slave for ingratitude.


      Yet when I set out to write the story POV the slave owner, I can’t get the original person in focus at all, and you nail it here. She doesn’t see them. All she sees of Araminta is her hands. I’m glad that the freakiness of it all translates to the reader’s side of the page.

  7. Becca says:

    I love how you manage to cram so much into so few words. There is characterization, world building and plot – OK, not much plot it is only six sentences – but there is so much. This snippet is really quite chilling as you realize just how far from today’s standards these people are living and yet to them it is so completely normal.

    • epbeaumont says:

      The gulf–which isn’t one–between ‘then’ and ‘now’ is what prompted the writing of this book. Yes, conditions are different; no, the mind-set hasn’t changed. We groan because we’ve met her, in one guise as another. The scariest thing about history is realizing that ‘they’ had a point of view, which seemed utterly reasonable to them.

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