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I Am a Human Being

Whips. Shackles. Blood. These are just a few of the many things we imagine when we hear the word dehumanization. When we first hear it, we may think that it is just a terrible thought. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. This issue happens to numerous individuals throughout the world, and a prolific number of people have recorded it down. Eventually, they are made into stories. Authors and filmmakers have shown us just how cruel it can be and why people do it. One example is the book Nightjohn by Gary Paulson. This book is set in the 1850s and is narrated by a twelve-year-old slave girl named Sarny. She was born and raised in a plantation owned by Waller. Sarny wants to be able to learn how to read and write (which is illegal for slaves). One day, a slave named Nightjohn was sold into the plantation and he was able to teach Sarny how to escape from being illiterate. They succeeded even though the conditions were harsh. Gary Paulson also shows a clear idea throughout this novel: Dehumanization is necessary for control.
The book Nightjohn gives a lot of evidence of slaves being brutalized. One example is that slaves were forced to eat from troughs, which are usually used for pigs. They also do not have utensils to use nor do they have good food to eat. Slaves are also given terrifying punishments if they do not follow the rules. Specifically, Nightjohn was punished for teaching Sarny how to read by cutting his toes off. Alice, a slave who cannot think as clearly as other people, was fettered and whipped until her back was all torn and bleeding because she went to her master’s yard without permission. Because of this barbaric treatment, Alice tried to escape. Unfortunately, Waller caught her and had his dogs attack her. The whole front of Alice’s body was torn off by the dogs.
The movie Nightjohn also shows many cases of slaves being treated like animals. In the beginning of this movie, Sarny’s mother was bred just so the owner would have more slaves. This is exactly like animals. The movie also shows Nightjohn being priced and brought by Waller, just like a horse when it gets sold. When Nightjohn was brought onto the plantation, his neck manacled to a wagon. He was forced to walk along the wagon at a horse’s speed. After he was released from the chains, he was forced to work until nighttime without any breaks and barely any food to eat. When Waller found out that Nightjohn knew how to read, he cut off Nightjohn’s finger with an axe.
There are also many illustrations of the theme recurring in the real world. How the Nazis treated the Jews was really inhumane. They deported the Jews to concentration camps. The Jewish people were forced to work all day and were not fed well. If the Jews did not meet the Nazis work requirements, they killed the Jews with gas chambers, shot them, etc. If a Jew was too young, too old, or too sick, he or she would be killed. The Nazis would march the Jews and would kill them if they fell. They used the Jewish people for experimenting, which people usually do to animals.
Undoubtedly, these exemplifications are just a few of the cruel ideas people use to dehumanize other people. Their aspiration of controlling other types of people they do not like has led them to perform unbearable kinds of torture. After I have investigated this thesis statement, I realize I have reached a new understanding: A person would do anything so he/she can feel powerful.




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