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November 10 , 2017

Westfall, Slave to King Cotton

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Westfall, Slave to King Cotton strays far from Old South nostalgia by giving us a multi-dimensional picture of life on a plantation. It questions the "realities" of what we read about the South of 1858, where an aristocracy was based on race and depended on slavery. We see Westfall's owner Tilmon Goodwyn as a man who didn't create the institution of slavery, but who inherited a belief in it. His life in the big house contrasts sharply with that in the slave quarters, home to Rio, the treacherous rival Goodwyn is unaware of. Rio belies the picture of the passive, obsequious slave. His fight against whites is reasoned, patient, and deadly. Because slaves were colored different, there was no hiding place in free society. Only with a white person's help could one escape. Rio is imprisoned on his island plantation, but he makes his jailers pay. Westfall reveals the hope and dreams of the boisterous slave quarters as well as the refined big house. It is a companion novel to Kedzie, Saint Helena Island Slave and Master of Westfall Plantation, as well as Sonny, Cold Slave Cradle.

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