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What Does It Mean to “Own” Someone?

During America’s time of slavery, slave “owners” claimed that they “owned” their “slaves.” We can examine what “ownership” of people may have meant, in the 19th century, in a novel like Huck Finn.

By the time of Chapter II, in Huck Finn, we don't-yet know much about Jim, except for one fundamental thing:  Huck says that he belongs to Miss Watson.  That means Jim is a slave.  

How would a person's psychological well-being be impacted if someone else claimed ownership over him/her?  Explain your answer.

If someone claimed to own another human being, what did that “owner” actually possess?  The slave's labor?  The slave's children?  The slave's mind?  The slave's thoughts?  The slave’s body?

Could someone be enslaved (in body) but free (in personal thoughts)?  How would that work, in the real world?


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