Friday, March 18, 2016

XI English Core Novel - Up From Slavery

Up From Slavery - Summary
Up from Slavery tells the life story of Booker T. Washington, from childhood through the height of his career. It is written in the first person, supplemented with excerpts from letters and newspaper editorials about his work.
Washington was born as a slave on a plantation in Virginia. He had a burning desire for education and, once freedom came, he taught himself to read. He spent much of his boyhood working in a salt furnace and a coal mine, attending school whenever he could. When he heard of the Hampton Institute - a school open to people of all races where students could work in exchange for board - he became determined to attend. After working for some time in the home of Mrs. Viola Ruffner, he set off for Hampton. His excellent training and work habits paid off, as he was hired as a janitor and allowed to enrol.
At Hampton, Washington became acquainted with his lifelong mentor and friend, General Armstrong, to whom he credits the idea of industrial education. He also learned to eat with a tablecloth and a napkin, bathe regularly, brush his teeth, and use sheets. Donors paid his tuition, but he worked hard both during the year and in the summers to pay for his board and necessities such as clothing and books. He learned that the happiest people were those who did the most for others, and also that one of the best things education could do is to teach a man to love labour.
After graduation, Washington returned to his hometown of Malden, VA and began teaching in the community. He taught both during the day and at night, and prepared several students (including his brothers) to attend Hampton. He also studied for eight months in Washington, D.C., where he found that students were less self-reliant as they had not learned to help themselves through industrial work. He found that many blacks in the city had become lazy, hoping for an easy life.
At the close of his studies, Washington was invited to teach at Hampton. He lived with a group of American Indian men as a "house father," and also took charge of the newly opened night school. When two men wrote to General Armstrong looking for someone to take charge of a new school for coloured people in Tuskegee, Alabama, Washington was recommended and accepted the job. He spent some time traveling around the region to get a sense of people's needs, and found they were extremely great.
When the Tuskegee Institute opened, there were just 30 students and one teacher, and the only structures were an old shanty and an abandoned church. Washington, along with Olivia Davidson, a teacher who later became his wife, worked hard to raise funds to purchase an abandoned plantation close to town. They shared a vision to teach far more than books, including proper hygiene, diet, table manners, and the practical knowledge of an industry that would allow students to make a living. With a loan from General Marshall, Treasurer of the Hampton Institute, they purchased the land and had students repair the dilapidated buildings. Students also cleared the land and planted crops, under the leadership of Washington himself.
Soon Washington and Davidson began traveling north to fundraise for new buildings. Students dug the foundations and did most of the labour themselves. They also learned to make bricks and furniture, and Washington saw that providing a needed service for the community did a lot to improve race relations. Despite objections from students and their parents, Washington insisted that all students learn an industry and spend sufficient time working at their trade. Enrolment increased, and the school soon opened a boarding department. With more students came the need for more buildings and funds, and Washington increased his fundraising efforts.
When traveling north to raise money, Washington also began receiving invitations to give lectures. After speaking at the National Educational Association in Madison, WI, he received an invitation to speak in Atlanta, which opened the door to giving an address at the opening of the Atlanta Cotton states and International Exposition in September 1895. This address was the high point of his career. Speaking in front of an audience of mixed race and origin (north and south), he shared his ideas that southern blacks should remain in the south and primarily work with their hands, and that southern whites should turn to their black neighbours rather than to foreign immigrants to meet their needs. Blacks should not agitate for social equality, but rather earn privileges through hard work and struggle. The speech was extremely well received by the white community, and Washington was soon in high demand as a speaker. Some of his own race were less positive, however, as they felt he had not spoken out strongly enough for black "rights."
Washington spoke at a number of other notable events, including the dedication of the Robert Gould Shaw monument in Boston and a peace celebration in Chicago following the close of the Spanish-American war. Tuskegee by that time was able to run itself in his absence, although he was kept informed of its proceedings through daily reports. He was also honoured in a number of public receptions and received an honorary degree from Harvard University.
In the spring of 1899, some of Washington's friends in Boston arranged for him and his wife to take a tour of Europe for a few months. It was his first vacation in 19 years. The couple visited Holland, Belgium, France, and England and met a number of important individuals, including the queen of England.
Tuskegee grew enormously in the twenty years since its inception. From its start in a broken-down shanty and a hen-house, it had grown to 2300 acres of land, 66 buildings, thirty industrial departments, 1400 students, and 110 officers and instructors, and it was well-respected enough to earn a visit from President McKinley.
Washington's mother
Washington's mother was the plantation cook. She had three children: Washington, his older brother John, and his younger sister Amanda. Despite the family's poverty, she also adopted an orphan boy, James. Washington comments about how much his mother supported his education. She somehow procured a Webster spelling book for him to learn his alphabet, and she sewed a cap for him in order to fit in with the children at school. Washington greatly respected her for refusing to go into debt to purchase a store-bought cap, instead solving the problem by making one herself. She passed away during one of his summer breaks while he was studying at the Hampton Institute.

Washington's stepfather
Washington's stepfather brought the family to West Virginia after Emancipation, where he had procured a cabin and a job in a salt mine. He made Washington and his brother John work in the salt mine as well, even though they were still children. He was far less supportive of his stepson's desire to go to school than Washington's mother, allowing the boy to attend only with the condition that he work many hours before and after classes. Ironically, Washington took his last name from his stepfather's first name (Washington), giving himself this surname when he realized he was supposed to possess two names at school.

Washington's brother, John
John was very supportive of his younger brother. As a child, he wore Washington's new, uncomfortable flax shirt for a few days to break it in. When Washington wanted to go to the Hampton Institute to further his education, John helped him as much as he could with whatever money he could spare. He worked in the coalmines to support the family while Washington was studying. After graduating, Washington repaid the favour by preparing John to enter Hampton himself, and by saving money to help pay his expenses. John later became Superintendent of Industries at Tuskegee. Both brothers also helped send their adopted brother James to Hampton, which prepared him to become Tuskegee's postmaster.
Mrs. Viola Ruffner
Viola Ruffner was the wife of General Lewis Ruffner, owner of the salt-furnace and the coalmine where Washington and his brother John worked. Although she had a reputation for being unusually strict with her servants, Washington preferred to enter her service than to continue working at the coalmine. He worked for her at a salary of $5 per month and soon learned how to keep her satisfied. He credits her with teaching him valuable lessons about how to take care of a house. Ruffner was supportive of Washington's education and allowed him to go to school for an hour a day during some of the winter months. It was while living with her that he began to compile his first "library."
Miss Mary F. Mackie
Mary F. Mackie was the head teacher at Hampton and controlled who would be admitted. Washington impressed her with his diligence while cleaning the recitation room, and she hired him as a janitor along with allowing him to enter the institution. The position was instrumental in allowing Washington to study, as it paid for nearly all of his board. Mackie became a good friend and worked alongside Washington to prepare the school for students' entrance. He respected the way she cleaned windows, dusted rooms, put beds in order, and so on, despite being a member of one of the oldest and most cultured northern families.
General Samuel C. Armstrong
General Armstrong was the leader of the Hampton Institute and one of Washington's most important mentors. He was a northern white man, but he dedicated his life to helping students of both races in the south. Armstrong was well loved and respected by his students, who, for instance, gladly honoured his request to live in tents during the cold winter in order to make room for more students. He was instrumental in advancing Washington's career: he found a donor to defray the cost of his tuition at Hampton, invited him to return to the school to teach and start a night-school, and recommended him to the founders of the Tuskegee Institute. He helped Washington raise funds as well, donating some of his own money and introducing his former student to potential donors in the North. The two were so close that Armstrong spent several months at the end of his life with Washington at Tuskegee.

Miss Fannie N. Smith
Smith was Washington's first wife. She came from West Virginia and was a graduate of the Hampton Institute. The two married in 1882 and had one daughter, Portia Washington, who became an accomplished dressmaker, musician, and teacher. Smith passed away in 1884, just two years after marrying Washington.

Olivia A. Davidson
Davidson was Washington's second wife. She was born in Ohio, but moved to the South when she heard of the need for teachers there. Based on Washington's account, she was an extraordinarily generous and selfless woman. While working in Mississippi, for instance, one of her pupils became sick with smallpox. When nobody would nurse him for fear of catching the disease, she closed her school and nursed him herself. Similarly, she offered her services as a yellow-fever nurse in Memphis, despite having no immunity.
Davidson was educated at the Hampton Institute and the Massachusetts State Normal School. She came to Tuskegee soon afterwards, bringing many fresh ideas. Along with Washington, she helped to raise funds and to plan the future of the institution.
Washington and Davidson married in 1885. They had two children together: Baker Talia Ferro, who later mastered the brick mason’s trade at Tuskegee; and Ernest Davidson Washington, who at the time of the book's publication was studying to be a physician. Davidson passed away in 1889, after four years of marriage and eight years of work for the school.

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