While reading Running a Thousand Miles For Freedom; Or, the Escape of William and Ellen Craft from Slavery (1860), you cannot help but feel as if you are with this empowered couple as they are escaping their southern shackles during this trying journey. William Craft is able to shape this narrative into one that explains the adversities he and his wife, Ellen Craft, faced. He does this without excessively describing the brutality which he had to face, unlike most slave narratives. This is rhetorical strategy is ironic, along with many other things in Craft’s narrative, making irony a shaping force in this narrative.
When thinking of irony in this narrative we can initially begin with the plan in which look at the way they escaped. Ellen Craft was a black woman, however, she had to act as a white male. These two characters are two completely opposite things politically and socially during these times. However, when “passing” through towns along this journey she was able to join this class and exposing her and William to the true beliefs of those who they were escaping.
While traveling with those who they were running from the Craft’s encountered many different types of people, and most of these situations showed different ironies. One time the couple encountered a Virginian gentleman and his two daughters, who, “‘…fell in love with the wrong chap.’ ” (60) This situation was ironic because the women fell in love with a southern gentleman who wasn’t a gentleman at all. This scene of irony shows how though White Southerners believed they were the wisest of them all, they couldn’t help but fall in love with a black woman.
Another time of irony during the Craft’s travel was when they met the Christian slave owner. Her husband had freed his slaves in his will, yet she decided it was best to sell them back into slavery. This woman was guided by her, “…dear son who is a good Christian minister…” (65) to do so. This shows the hypocrisy of the people of the south during this time because they twisted the truth of the Bible to match their wants of slavery. The Bible doesn’t support slavery, especially that based on the color of their skin, yet these people morphed this work to fit their own standards.
When showing these beliefs of the people on the South, along with his journey, William Craft does not use words of hate to degrade their character in any way. This narrative still shows how hateful, and ignorant, these people truly are though. This shows how the people were making unjust prejudices and hate, ruining the lives of many African-Americans.