William Craft used various allusions in his narrative (William and Ellen Craft, Running a Thousand Miles for Freedom) to emphasize his point in a different way from other slave narratives. Many others will use extreme descriptions of violence, and emphasize their extremely unfair conditions in order to get their point across and to get people to really feel what they felt. Craft used allusions to do that instead, and I am going to explore some of the ones that stood out to me.
The first one is the first thing you see when you begin reading the narrative; a poem. The poem reads “God gave us only over beast, fish, fowl, Dominion absolute; that right we hold By his donation. But man over man He made not lord; such title to himself Reserving, human left from human free.” This poem was written by the English poet John Milton and was taken from his religious book of poems “Paradise Lost: The Twelfth Book“. I think this allusion was used to show how unethical it is to think that one human can be above another. It was taken from a religious book, and with many references in the narrative to so-called “Christian” slaveowners this proved his point that this was not a Christian value. Craft was trying to show that from a religious standpoint the things they went through were not okay.
The second allusion that Craft used is his references to the slave laws in various states. Rather than just focusing on the state he was in, he chose to expose the laws in three different southern states. The states he mentioned were Louisiana, Georgia, and South Carolina which go from the bottom of the country and up. I think he chose to do this to emphasize the many states that slaves had to get through in order to be free, as well as show that these degrading laws were in place everywhere. He also wanted the reader to actually see the laws and the way they worded things to make them understand that slaves were not seen as people, or at least lesser of a person than the white individuals.
The last allusion that I am going to address is the one with the Fugitive Slave Act. This law made a huge impact on the lives of not only Ellen and William Craft, but for many escaped slaves that were living in the north. Craft put this in here with exact words from the law to give the reader a feel for just how much it impacted them and the implications of it. He wanted the reader to read his entire escape story, get to this part, and realize that everything he had just went through could have been for nothing at all. He wants to emphasize the terror that he felt when realizing that this was passed as legislation, and transfer that to the reader in order for them to truly understand how he was feeling while going through this ordeal.