The depiction of a group of fugitives suggests the lack of a clear path to liberty. There is a looming flag, yet it remains scarily close to the enduring battle. One person has worn red beads, denoting victory in nineteenth-century African American folktale; another has worn blue beads, considered good luck charms (Douglass 189). The women carry pronged sticks that slaves believed would fight off witches. Although the characters emerge from darkness into light, the anxious countenance of the boy at the right concedes the danger of their venture. Although there is hope for liberation, the painting symbolizes a mute weight of epic tragedy. The future is not clearly defined. The second image is ‘A Visit from the Old Mistress’ by Winslow Homer in chapter 15. The painting signifies a meeting of two different cultures, not sure of their place in society. They got separated by social class, traditions and civil rights. The living conditions of these slaves have not improved. Their dwelling is modest, and their clothing is grungy. Their relationship with their former mistress is not the same. The mistress assumes the position of a visitor in a home. She stands as one of her former servants sits in a chair. The painting captures the tension of these women whose years of slavery never nurtured a sense of loyalty or affection for their former master. It shows the tension that existed between whites and their former slaves after liberation. The women in the painting are in a new, undefined relationship.
They face each other suspiciously across a space that no one moves to bridge. The freed slaves are no longer compelled to greet their former mistress with receiving signals (Hoffman & Gjerde, 274). One woman remains seated, yet she would not be allowed to do so before liberation. It depicts a struggle to define the rapport between black and white; between former slave and master. The three African American women stare past their former master as she passes by their old home. The black women in the painting are wearing attires similar to the ones they wore as servants during slavery. This symbolizes that they would never have the real freedom that they desired. The child’s presence is hope that the future African Americans posterity will progress towards equality under the law. These images relate to the Douglass and Jacobs narratives of slavery. Douglass got deprived of a childhood and had limited family contact in his life. At a young age, he was aware of being a slave; enduring beatings, along with watching the abuse and death of slaves. Religion got used as an excuse for abuse. Unlike Douglass, Jacobs grew up in a calm home with her family and did not know about slaves until the age of six, upon her mother’s death. At twelve years old, she got sold to a slave holder. This made her realize the hardships of slavery life. Although she did not undergo physical pain through her life, she suffered severe mental torture. Her family instilled deep faith of God in her. A slave got treated differently depending on their gender. Douglass underwent cruel beatings, long labor hours and starvation. Jacob’s life was akin in many ways but opposite, as well. Jacobs expressed that slavery was far much worse for women than men. Female slaves underwent mental and sexual violence while under their masters. This was a way to brutalize them to lose self-esteem. In both the narratives, the slave masters