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Why Were Slave Owners Intentionally Cruel?

In 12 Years a Slave, Patsey is a female slave who works harder and faster than anyone else.

Once, after she was off the Epps plantation for a short while, the hard-working, out-performing slave tells Edwin Epps that she visited the Shaw Plantation to get soap because "Missus" didn't give her any (although she gives soap to the other slaves).  

Then Patsey adds:  "...and you know why."  What did Patsey mean with those words?

Why didn't Mrs. Epps give Patsey soap so she could clean-up after working so hard, picking cotton all day?


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